COVID-19 rapid tests could be coming to Ontario schools in time for flu season

Sep 24 2021, 7:32 pm

Rapid tests may soon be deployed strategically in Ontario schools in an effort to keep kids safe and schools open.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said that a strategy for rapid testing is being discussed, but that testing millions of students daily, or even two or three times a week, would be a logistical nightmare.

“It would be difficult for us to test 2 million children every day, or three twice a week or three times a week,” said Dr. Kieran Moore at a press conference.

Right now they’re looking for the best way to keep kids healthy in the classroom, and that may mean deploying rapid testing in some areas. Children aged 12 and under are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine yet.

“We’re trying to have a strategy where if the community rate is rising, like it is in some of our areas in Ontario, and there are certain schools that continue to have outbreaks or high absenteeism, that’s an environment where I think having a test to stay in the class, or test to continue to be at the class may be very, very helpful,” he said.

He added that he hopes they will have a strategy in the coming weeks.

With flu season fast approaching, he added that anyone showing even minor symptoms should get tested, which could add to the number of students requiring tests.

He told reporters that even sniffles or body aches should keep people at home and booking a test.

“I would just caution everyone, if you get the typical symptoms of flu or COVID that you should stay home, you should get tested,” he said at a press conference.

He added that with current COVID-19 measures in place, like distancing, masking and vaccinations, COVID-19 infections as well as flu and cold infections should remain low, but the only way to monitor the situation is by getting tested.

“There’s no distinguishing, unique symptoms between COVID and all the other viruses. They all can give a fever, a new onset of cough, or increasing shortness of breath, and some get more flu-like symptoms like muscle aches and joint pain,” he said.

With the possible increase in demand for tests, he said that Ontario Public Health is closely monitoring the situations at COVID-19 assessment centres and that Ontario is prepared to open more if needed.

Brooke TaylorBrooke Taylor

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