New COVID-19 test available for K-12 students in B.C.

The province is rolling out a new COVID-19 test for K-12 students, one of the first of its kind in the world, which will be an “easier alternative” to the current nasal swab test.  

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the new testing method during Thursday’s COVID-19 media briefing.

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The test, made in B.C. and launched Thursday, will involve a saline mouth-rise that will be gargled and spat into a tube. The test will be available to children aged four to 19.

“We focused on children because we know right now (testing is) going to be very critical for children, if they start showing symptoms of COVID-19, and they’re in a school setting,” said Henry, adding the province hopes to have the test available to everyone later on.

The tubes will be provided by a B.C. company, which will help reduce the province’s dependency on the global supply chain, she said, which has been one of the challenges around lab testing. 

While children will still need to go to an assessment centre for the test, the test itself will be done by parents or children, said Henry, rather than a healthcare worker.  

“We’ve tried to make it more efficient so that we don’t have long lineups and that (the test) doesn’t take as long to do,” she said. 

The test has been validated at the BC Centre for Disease Control and St. Paul's Hospital, and works “just as well” as the nasal swab test, Henry added. 

“The test is the same, so we're still using a PCR test that is done at the laboratory, it's just a different method of collection.” 

School outbreaks to be posted online

Vancouver Coastal Health will list all school COVID-19 outbreaks on its website, including any at Richmond schools.

Henry said at Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing that there are currently no outbreaks at schools.

The list can be found at

  • With files from Maria Rantanen
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