Microbiologist says Sask. back-to-school plan lacks details about testing, suggests ‘pool testing’ to avoid outbreaks
Published Tuesday, August 11, 2020 4:47PM CST Last Updated Tuesday, August 11, 2020 7:01PM CST
SASKATOON -- A microbiologist and father of five wants a better testing plan at Saskatchewan schools.
Kyle Anderson said constant testing can help identify asymptomatic kids who may unknowingly spread COVID-19.
In a video that’s been shared more than 500 times on Facebook, Kyle Anderson suggests schools undergo “pool testing.”
Pool testing, also known as batch or surveillance testing, cuts down on time and resources by using one test on several samples.
“One test that’s put in a machine could have more than one sample in it,” Anderson told CTV News.
Anderson suggests each classroom could undergo weekly pool testing.
If the classroom batch is negative, the test is done. If the test is positive, than further testing would be required to detect which student is behind the positive result.
“That’s a really interesting concept,” Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said.
Shahab said broad testing at schools isn’t part of the current back-to-school plan.
He said anyone can get tested if they want, but pool testing would only be considered under certain situations.
“If required, especially if there were cases or clusters in schools, you know, broader testing may be considered,” Shahab told reporters at Tuesday’s news conference, when asked about pool testing.
But Anderson said ramping up testing once a cluster of cases is already detected could be a little too late.
“It’s a lot better to test everyone occasionally than to test a few people every once and a while, or wait until some’s symptomatic to do testing because then we’re behind – we’re already trying to come back from a deficit, rather than isolate the case,” he said.