Rapid tests for kids including high school students will be less uncomfortable starting Monday, following a decision by health ministry officials amid criticism over discomfort experienced by youngsters during nasopharyngeal testing.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, nasal swab tests made available to the public on Monday will help high school and Special Ed students feel less discomfort during weekly rapid tests for the coronavirus.
The anterior nasal swab will be available only to students and any other children outside school programs during an initial phase, CNA reported, while a decision to allow junior high as well as younger students back into the classroom after March 31 remains pending.
Adult employees and members of the public so far have been mostly tested by widely-used nasopharyngeal swabs, including students on school premises in recent weeks, with some students and parents speaking out against the method saying it was painful and unnecessary.
While nasopharyngeal swabs are designed to collect samples from deep inside a person’s nasal cavity, the less invasive method collects samples from the nasal walls of the nostril
Earlier this month, a photo showing a high school student outside a glass window following along with a lesson inside his classroom had gone viral, keeping the debate over mandatory rapid tests alive in the Republic of Cyprus.
The student, who said he was not a denier of the pandemic, raised both legal and medical concerns, saying he was not against epidemiological surveillance in schools and would consider getting tested if there was a different method.
While nasopharyngeal swabs are designed to collect samples from deep inside a person’s nasal cavity, a less invasive method collects samples from the nasal walls of the nostril, with both methods essentially looking for the same thing, namely respiratory secretions and infected cells by COVID-19.
Last year experts opted for deeper sample collections through the mouth and nose, citing higher accuracy and reliability of results, while more methods have been developed and evolved over the course of the pandemic.
CNA reported that health ministry officials took the decision after evaluating data on all approved testing methods, in an effort to provide a better experience for test takers while also securing adequate monitoring of the epidemiological conditions in the country.
While the government has approved access to home test kits for COVID-19, non-invasive antigen tests including saliva swabs are currently not on the approved list per health ministry policy.