The saliva-based Covid-19 tests for children will begin next week and help determine if there is transmission of the infection within schools, a senior health official has said.
Dr Yousef al-Maslamani, medical director of Hamad General Hospital, told Qatar TV on Wednesday evening that it is good for schoolchildren to undergo the Covid-19 test to make sure that they are free of infection.
This will also help the authorities concerned diagnose if any child had been infected before, as usually some never show any symptoms. Further, the tests will help determine whether any positive case originated outside or within the school itself, and how the infection is transmitted in schools if any case is found.
Further, it will provide accurate data on the rate of infection among students and how safe the situation is.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) had recently announced that Qatar has become one of the first countries in the world to launch a new saliva-based Covid-19 test for children.
The saliva-based test is less intrusive for children as it does not require a swab to be inserted into the nose and back of the throat like the current standard swab. Saliva tests can be easily completed by transferring saliva from the mouth into a sample pot, the MoPH explained, adding that studies around the world have been looking at the use of saliva only swabs and the results have confirmed their effectiveness.
The MoPH plans to introduce the saliva-based Covid-19 tests as part of a national testing programme to gain a better understanding of infection rates. It will work in collaboration with Hamad Medical Corporation and Primary Health Care Corporation to carry out the tests for students in both government and private schools in Qatar, and parental consent will be sought prior to any child being tested.
Dr al-Maslamani yesterday said the tests will start next week and will help figure out if the positive cases, if any, came from the students’ home or the community in general. Track and trace teams had found that the positive cases in the first two weeks since the start of the new academic year (September 1) did not get infected by the virus when attending schools — on the contrary they got infected mainly at home, during social gatherings.
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