Canada has developed a new gargle method for children to test for COVID-19.
Most children in British Columbia can say goodbye to those icky swabs and uncomfortable COVID-19 tests as the Canadian province launches a new gargle method for students age 4-19.
"It is one of the first of its kind around the world," said Dr Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control says the new test is just as accurate as tests using a nasal swab and is much easier to administer for children.
The announcement comes at a time when testing is in high demand. Canada has seen a doubling of new daily cases in the last month. And while experts are still looking into the role children play in COVID-19 transmission, a recent report suggests they can - and do - spread the virus, even when they have mild or no symptoms.
"This is a new saline gargle where you put a little bit of normal saline, so sterile water, in your mouth and you swish it around a little bit and you spit it into a little tube and that's an easier way to collect it for young people," said Dr Henry.
B.C. public health officials say they compared test results in both children and adults and found the rate of the virus detection was very similar between the nasal swab and the new gargle test. B.C. is prioritising children for the new test but hopes to expand to adults in the coming weeks.
While the sample will still have to be taken to a lab for processing the test does not have to be administered by a healthcare professional.
The country's seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases edged upward to 849 Friday, and public health officials said Canadians under the age of 40 are fuelling the surge in cases. It's a 123 percent increase from a month ago, when the seven-day average stood at 380.