MoPH to utilize saliva-based COVID-19 test for children as part of national testing program
Although Qatar has entered stage two of the final phase of its easing of COVID-19 restrictions plan today, it continues to exercise caution to limit the spread of the virus.
The country’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reminds the public daily about the importance of continuing to adhere to preventive and precautionary guidelines, as the pandemic has not ended.
While the fight against COVID-19 continues, relevant authorities in the country have been working above and beyond to protect the health and wellbeing of the population.
In this light, MoPH has announced that it will utilize the new saliva-based test for COVID-19 in detecting the infection amongst children.
As part of a national testing program, the Ministry “plans to introduce saliva-based COVID-19 tests for children from Sunday, September 20.”
The program aims to “gain a better understanding of infection rates,” the Ministry said.
MoPH will work jointly with Hamad Medical Corporation and Primary Health Care Corporation to conduct the tests for all students in both government and private schools in Qatar.
However, parents will be asked for their consent before their child is tested.
Dr Mariam Abdul Malik, Managing Director of PHCC said, “We are pleased to be utilizing the saliva-based COVID-19 test for children alongside our key partners and we will be using this method throughout our four to six-week testing program.”
“The standard test used to date in Qatar has been the swab test, which requires a swab to be inserted up the individual’s nose and to the back of their throat. This is very effective but some people, especially children, can find the process uncomfortable,” the PHCC official explained.
“Studies around the world have been looking at the use of saliva only swabs and the results have confirmed their effectiveness,” she added.
Dr Hamad Al Romaihi, Manager of Health Protection and Communicable Disease Control at MoPH confirmed that since students returned to classrooms on September 1 the Ministry identified a small number of positive cases among children and teachers.
“While any new case among children is of concern, it is important that we put this into context. Out of more than 350,000 students and over 35,000 teachers in Qatar less than 0.2 percent have tested positive since schools reopened,” he noted.
“This is a very low rate of infection among this population group,” Dr Al Romaihi said.
“As with all positive cases in Qatar, our track and trace teams have worked hard to identify where these positive cases among children and teachers were transmitted and it is clear that they did not catch the virus in schools,” he underlined.
According to Dr Al Romaihi, the Ministry surveillance confirmed that the children had contracted the virus outside of school settings, “mainly at home during social gatherings.”
Yesterday, at a press conference held by MoPH, it was announced that while blended learning will continue, parents will have an option to choose between this approach or shift to online learning.
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