Want compliance? Speed Up the Tests

Coronavirus Daily

If you want compliance, speed up the tests

French Prime Minister Jean Castex had to take a dose of his own medicine earlier this month.

Castex was told that he was in close contact with someone infected with Covid-19. He had been in a car with the head of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, following the eighth stage of the famous cycling race. And Prudhomme tested positive.

His boss, President Emmanuel Macron, said Castex needed to follow the rules everyone else was asked to follow in France. Castex was then filmed speaking to journalists. While he did wear a mask, he was in the middle of a crowded room, explaining that he would get tested and abide by French regulations.

He did self-isolate then, and continued doing so even though a few hours later, Castex's results came out negative. Four days later, he became free to go out in public again when he tested negative a second time.

Jean Castex, France's prime minister

Photographer: Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg

Many people in France would spend just that much time waiting to get their first test. In past weeks, as millions of people across the country ask for a diagnosis, delays for both getting tests and their results have been lengthening.

If ordinary people got faster turnarounds on their results, they'd be more likely to do the right thing, which Castex took a bit too long to do: immediately lock themselves in a room the moment they suspect they may have Covid-19. Instead, the prime minister opted for a public announcement that he would self-isolate.

The issue highlights why we need faster turnarounds for test results: If results come quickly, it wouldn't be so hard to convince people to stay home to wait for them.—Thomas Mulier

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