France is allowing health care workers who are infected with the coronavirus but have few or no symptoms to keep treating patients rather than self-isolate, an extraordinary stopgap measure aimed at easing staff shortages at hospitals and other facilities caused by an unprecedented explosion in cases.
The special exemption to France’s quarantine rules being rolled out to hospitals, elderly care homes, doctors’ offices and other essential health services testifies to the growing strain on the French medical system by the fast-spreading omicron variant.
It is a calculated risk, with the possibility that health care workers with COVID-19 could infect colleagues and patients being weighed against what the government says is a need to keep essential services running.
Outside the health sector, for those not covered by the special exemption, France’s quarantine rules require at least five days of self-isolation for the fully vaccinated who test positive. For the unvaccinated, self-isolation is at least seven days.