Rapid COVID-19 test in schools is a useful tool: Montreal study – Montreal

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A study into the use of rapid testing for COVID-19 in schools finds that the screenings are useful.

Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh and a team of researchers at Ste. Justine hospital launched a study at two schools this spring.

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Coronavirus: Rapid testing for COVID-19 starts at two Montreal high schools

“What we’ve seen with that study is that in children and staff at two high schools who had symptoms,” said Quach-Thanh, “the test was 83 per cent sensitive to the detection of the virus.”

She added that the test was not as effective in detecting the virus in people with no symptoms, picking up just 30 per cent.

“Meaning that, yes, you could catch one positive person here and there,” she explained, “but you would need to do a lot more tests before being able to find that one person.”

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The advantage of the test then, she pointed out, is that if done only on kids who have symptoms, when contagion is most likely, asymptomatic students don’t have to be sent home needlessly.

In September the Quebec government permitted rapid testing at schools in areas where infections are high, after teachers and parents expressed concern about the risk of COVID spread.

Some health professionals like cardiologist and epidemiologist Dr. Christopher Labos believe having the tests in schools makes sense.

“When we use it properly especially in schools,” he told Global News, “it can be a very effective way of controlling outbreaks.”

The Quebec government has already given employers the OK to administer the tests in workplaces on the province’s territory.

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Labos sees it going even further.

“Anytime you’re gonna have group events it could potentially be useful,” he pointed out.”

Read more:
COVID-19: Rapid testing begins in some Montreal-area schools

Quach-Thanh believes the kits could even be eventually made available to the general population.

“I think that a lot of questions are currently being discussed as to whether or not we should have access to those tests at home,” she said

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In an emailed statement the health ministry spokesperson wrote in French, “Rapid tests are not designed to be distributed in the community. Thus, Quebec distributes rapid tests in elementary and preschool schools, as well as in certain companies that have requested them.”

She added, “As for self-tests and self-screening, the [ministry of health and social services] has not yet made a decision …”[The ministry] is continuing its reflections on screening, in order to use all available tools and offer the population different alternatives.”

Click to play video: 'N.B. expands COVID-19 rapid test kits availability'

N.B. expands COVID-19 rapid test kits availability

N.B. expands COVID-19 rapid test kits availability

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