Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley gives a COVID-19 update during a press conference in Whitehorse on May 26. Yukon public health is working with British Columbia to explore the option of introducing COVID-19 gargle tests, rather than nose swabs, for children. (Alistair Maitland Photography)

Yukon working with B.C. on COVID-19 “mouth rinse” tests for children

The tests are easier for children than the comparatively uncomfortable nose swab

Yukon public health is working with British Columbia to explore the option of introducing COVID-19 gargle tests, rather than nose swabs, for children.

The province introduced the secondary testing method on Sept. 18 for people ages four to 19.

The new saliva method uses a “mouth rinse gargle” for testing for COVID. In order to collect samples, the testee must ingest a small amount of liquid and swish it around their mouth before spitting into a tube.

“The results have been promising and B.C. is sharing this information. We’re working with our B.C. lab partners to see just how we could add this option to our testing in Yukon,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley during a Sept. 23 COVID-19 update.

While it doesn’t result in any lasting pain and only lasts around 10 seconds, many people find the swab test up the nose an uncomfortable experience.

“It may be a kinder option for kids who might have to be tested multiple times over the coming fall and winter months. So more on that as we get further along that pathway,” Hanley said.

“We have talked about how lucky we’ve been in Yukon. I feel lucky as well to be part of this community that is so supportive of our efforts to keep Yukoners informed and safe. We will continue to work to maintain the best balance, living with COVID risk while taking the necessary precautions and maintaining our vigilance,” Hanley said.

The Respiratory Assessment Centre has been renamed to the COVID testing centre.

Three new Civil Emergency Measures Act charges were laid last week. One person was charged Sept. 17 for a failure to comply with the self-isolation order, and another two charges were laid on Sept. 21 for an indoor gathering with more than 10 people.

Hanley also reiterated the new guidelines for keeping kids home from school that were introduced last week.

The new guidelines categorize symptoms with three colours: green, yellow and red.

Green designates a child who has no symptoms and can attend school. This includes children with diagnosed health conditions who may have symptoms that are normal for their day-to-day, such as allergies.

Yellow means the child has milder symptoms that may be common in ordinary illnesses. The government recommends in this case that a child stays home for 24 hours to see if symptoms get better or worse.

Red symptoms include a new cough, fever, loss of taste or smell or difficulty breathing. In those situations, children should be tested for COVID-19. If a child isn’t tested, they should be in self-isolation for at least 10 days from when they started having symptoms.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

Coronavirus

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