Ontario’s 2.2 million schoolchildren undergo rapid tests for coronavirus antigen over winter break – .

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Ontario’s 2.2 million schoolchildren undergo rapid tests for coronavirus antigen over winter break – .


Ontario is preparing to send a five-pack rapid COVID-19 antigen tests home with every schoolboy in the province in time for winter break, in a massive effort to screen children over the holidays and prevent infected children to return to school in January.

Ontario health officials said that by mid-December, schools will distribute 11 million rapid COVID-19 antigen tests – enough for all of the estimated 2.2 million students in public schools in province – with instructions to use one every three or four days. winter holidays, from December 23.

Anyone who tests positive with antigen testing will then need to take a confirmatory COVID-19 PCR test.

But participation is voluntary and any child who does not pass the rapid tests will be allowed to return to school in January.

“There are real plans to get them back to school safely in January,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said of the plan.

This move is a radical departure from official Ford government policy this school year.

In September, CP24 revealed that the province provided free rapid antigen tests to private schools, while public schools did not.

In response, parents in public schools formed groups to acquire rapid antigenic tests themselves and manage asymptomatic mass surveillance networks themselves.

The Ford government canceled that in October, telling two agencies that provided large numbers of test kits to parents that provincial rules forbid them from distributing tests to parents and community groups and that they should stop.

Growing pressure led them to launch a limited program of rapid antigen testing for schools in October, which only saw the tests used a few times in the GTA.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Kieran Moore has repeatedly said there is no need for asymptomatic mass testing like what’s scheduled for December because it won’t detect much. of real infections and would not bring back many erroneous results.

“The major risk we had is going into the winter months – we had 711 cases today and we expect our rates to go up, and as the rates go up the sensitivity to the test will be very good. and the number of false positives will be less, ”Moore said.

Calling the next few weeks a “winter socializing season,” he said he believed it was appropriate “prudent and reasonable to have these tests in the hands of families in order to better protect them”.

Ontario NDP education critic Marit Stiles said given the history of the Ford government’s actions on rapid tests for children, she did not believe they would be effective. .

“I have no confidence that this government will be able to deploy these tests by the holidays,” she said.

“Now it comes to rapid tests in schools, having taken them out of parents’ hands in September. “

Rapid antigen tests are less sensitive than PCR tests, but cost a fraction of the PCR and take only 15 minutes.

Officials said the province should go out and procure additional tests from BTNX of Markham, Ont. in addition to the Federal Reserve which has provided them with nearly 28 million rapid tests to date, in order to have rapid tests taken to all students by mid-December.

Officials said the purchase of additional rapid tests cost the province $ 50 million.

They added that 100 First Nations schools in the province would also be offered rapid test kits, but said they were not sure all schools would accept the offer.

Now, along with a new “test-to-stay” program for asymptomatic children in schools facing COVID-19 outbreaks and the massive distribution of rapid antigen tests for the winter break, the province will also put set up dozens of asymptomatic test sites in major public spaces in what they called a “Vacation Mobile Test Blitz.”

Up to 43 test teams will be dispatched to shopping malls, public places and holiday markets, sometimes in conjunction with mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

Mobile testing sites will focus on areas with high COVID-19 transmission and low vaccination rates.

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