Swish, gargle, spit: here’s the new kid-friendly COVID-19 test


HALIFAX – We all know this inherently: Swish-gargle-spit is way better than a stick in the nose.

If you’re a kid and need to get tested for the coronavirus in Halifax, at least you’ll have that option now.

If you’re an adult… well, at the moment, it looks like you’ve got the handle.

Halifax’s IWK Health Center, one of the nation’s leading pediatric hospitals, on Wednesday began rolling out a pilot project in which the nasal swab test for COVID-19 is replaced by a test called – in technical terms – the Gargle-Swish test.

The patient pops five milliliters of saline in the mouth for five seconds, then tilts his head back and gargles for another five. They repeat this process two more times, then spit it all out into a cup.

Finished. Thirty seconds in total, and no nose. No fuss, no mess – unless you lack the ability to gargle. The cup goes to the lab and the results come back in 72 hours.

The new test is said to be 98% sensitive to COVID-19, which puts it on par with the nasal swab test.

Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, the test is only available to children between the ages of four and 18. Only two of these pilot projects exist – the first at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, the second in Halifax at the IWK – so resources are limited and a priority for children.

“We started this morning and it’s been overwhelmingly positive for both staff and patients,” said Joanne Gallant, Clinical Manager of the IWK Primary Assessment Clinic. “We had a patient who had already had a nasal swab and came to gargle. And he left with a big smile on his face and said it was awesome.

Gallant said research has shown that every interaction between a child’s healthcare has an impact on their future healthcare interactions.

In this case, Gallant believes there will be short-term benefits as well. With the resumption of schools and health guidelines suggesting a coronavirus test if children show symptoms of fever or cold, the number of children who need to be tested has increased.

“We also hope that this will increase the rates at which people are willing to enter, because all of these (coronavirus) tests are based on self-reporting.

“So if someone had the swish-and-gargle test, and it was going really well – that’s what we see – they were hoping, you know, in a few months, if they had another cold.” , they wouldn’t. Feel free to fill out this form and come back for another test. “

For Sara Laffin, this seems plausible.

Laffin, a nurse at the IWK who administers some of the giggling and gargling tests, also has two children, a seven-year-old girl, Penny, and a five-year-old boy, Mickey.

She said that while children are more resilient than adults realize, there is still some trepidation about the nasal swab test.

“I think it’s pretty vulnerable that another human will stamp your nose.” It can be quite scary for kids and cause a lot of anxiety in some kids just thinking about it. Not necessarily the procedure itself, but the preparation for the procedure can be quite scary, ”she said.



But she has tried the new slip-and-gargle test on her own children, with positive results.

“They both thought it was fun and easy, were the two words they used to describe it, and ‘It wasn’t that bad’ was what Penny had said.



Did you have to take a child for a COVID-19 test? How did they do it? Share your experience.

Conversations are the opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star disagrees with these views.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here