COVID-19 swish, gargle and spit test coming for school aged children in B.C.

British Columbia is introducing a new mouth rinse, gargle and spit test for students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to help make it easier for children and teenagers to check whether they have COVID-19.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the new test is the first of its kind in the world and was developed in B.C. 

Henry says getting tested is key in the fight against the pandemic and the test will make it easier to collect samples from young people.

“Unlike the nasopharyngeal swab this is a new saline gargle, where you put a little bit of normal saline  — so the sterile water in your mouth  — 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 Henry. 

“Not only is this new method more comfortable, particularly for our younger children, it’s a B.C. company that’s going to be providing the collections tubes.” 

Henry says the made in B.C. product will reduce the province’s dependency on the global supply chain for lab testing. 

WATCH | B.C. approves COVID-19 rinse and spit test for children:

British Columbia approves a new COVID-19 test for children that has them swish and gargle salt water then spit it into a tube as an alternative to the nose swab test. 1:28

The test can be done without a health professional by parents or children themselves.

The nose swab will continue to be used for younger children or those who can’t follow the swish, gargle and spit instructions. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control says both tests are able to detect if a child has COVID-19.

Private and public health officials have been touting various methods under consideration across the country for saliva-based COVID-19 tests as lines grow at assessment centres.

Henry says the new test will be available at COVID-19 collection and assessment centres across the province. 


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