SPIT IT OUT: Cannes Film Festival subjects non-EU visitors to saliva-based coronavirus test
07/08/2021 // Nolan Barton // Views

Many are salivating at the return of the Cannes Film Festival this year after the annual event got canceled last year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But they may need to literally salivate first before enjoying the flashiest film festival in the world. In Cannes, the saliva test is the preferred method of checking for COVID-19 by Biogroup, the laboratory hired to fight the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, during the event.

Olivia Wilson, for example, had to spit over and over again in a plastic tube to make sure she didn't have COVID-19. While the process didn't involve sticking a swab up her nostrils, it wasn't so easy.

"It was difficult for me. I couldn't produce enough saliva," said Wilson, who arrived from Tennessee on Monday afternoon, July 5. Wilson, who will work as an intern at the American Pavilion, estimated that she had to spit "more than 15 times" before she managed to collect enough of a sample.

The annual Cannes Film Festival launched this week with a formidable roster of artists and Spike Lee as jury president. (Related: New Spike Lee film "Blackkklansman" is the racialist Left's latest effort to keep Americans hating and divided.)

For the first time since World War II, Cannes was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While infection rates from the global pandemic have dipped recently, the Delta variant has produced hot spots around the world. That has led to new complications for a film festival trying to make a comeback during the COVID era.

French laws require that those who gather indoors either must be vaccinated or show proof of a PCR test. But because of the limitations of an app that the French government uses, those coming to Cannes from countries outside of the European Union's COVID-19 tracking system won't have a transferable bar code to show that they have been vaccinated.


Thus, they will essentially be treated as if they haven't been vaccinated. The mandate has already led to confusion and complaints from festival-goers on the ground.

According to the latest rules, non-European attendees at Cannes will need to be tested for COVID every 48 hours to enter the Palais – the building where scrappy producers set up tables to market their films and movie stars whisk in through a back door to hold press conferences.

France doesn't require proof of vaccination inside movie theaters, so those attending screenings only will be exempt from the testing protocols.

Saliva tests for COVID have been praised for their efficacy and efficiency, with some finding them less invasive than nose swabs. They require fewer technicians since those who are being tested can collect their own samples.

Few steps separate gross and glamorous at Cannes

Hours before the festival's launch on Tuesday, July 6, the scene at the makeshift COVID testing center just steps away from where the Cannes movies premiere was the opposite of glamour.

Festival attendees were ushered into a room that looks like a polling center. They were handed a plastic container and a funnel where they were instructed to aim their spit, while standing behind a socially distanced partition. Some missed, hitting the floor or their clothes.

"It has to be liquid," a laboratory employee instructed. "Foam doesn't count."

There were other reasons for being disqualified. Variety reporter witnessed a vial of spit being discarded because someone had coughed up a piece of food. "It is recommended that you do not eat, drink, smoke or brush your teeth in the 30 minutes [before] the sampling," Biogroup said.

Test site inspectors are mostly local teens hired to process the government-mandated tests. "We're already experts in saliva," said Enzo, one of the test site inspectors. "There's no real training for this, but you get used to it quick enough."

He related that they go through 200 vials an hour and that they propose the nose test for those who can't produce enough saliva.

"I found the test to be really gross," said one person who participated in the process.

Others praised the festival for creating a testing system that had short lines for now and simple instructions for registering appointments online.

After logging onto a dedicated webpage, a person can book an immediate appointment at a testing site just a three-minute walk from the Palais. Open all day every day and offering tests free of charge, the site is expected to process 4,000 saliva tests a day with the results getting emailed six hours later.

"It was quick and easy," said Lucy Holman, another intern who got tested on Monday.

Follow Pandemic.news for more news and information related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sources include:

Yahoo.com 1


Yahoo.com 2

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