More than 4,700 school children, teachers, and staff from across Western Australia’s public schools have undergone their first test for COVID-19, as part of the McGowan Government’s research study scanning the school community for any asymptomatic COVID-19 cases.
The program is voluntary, with consent required from parents of child participants and all staff, and involves a swab being taken from the throat and nose.
Nurses from the Child and Adolescent Health Service and WA Country Health Service have visited 28 metropolitan schools and 12 regional schools to conduct swab tests on a random sample of participants.
Tests processed by PathWest have detected no COVID-19, supporting the view that WA has no community transmission of COVID-19.
Participants range from four years old to 71 years of age, and 85 per cent were children.
The swab testing at participating schools will be repeated at least twice more during Term 3.
The project, carried out in partnership with the Telethon Kids Institute, also involves a psychosocial survey of students, parents, teachers and staff from across 79 schools representing a range of socio-economic, educational and cultural backgrounds.
The 79 participating schools include those which are involved in the asymptomatic testing program.
Fly-in fly-out workers are the other focus group of the DETECT asymptomatic research program and is overseen by Curtin University.
Currently there are more than 40 companies participating in the research, and to date some 16,204 tests have been carried out.
As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:
“I am extremely pleased that swab testing has provided further reassurance that we have no COVID-19 infection in the community and thank the school community for their overwhelming support of this initiative.
“The Telethon Kids Institute is world-renowned for excellence in research and I expect that through their survey responses which are ready to be analysed, we will gain a great insight into the very real and personal impacts of COVID-19 on Western Australian children and their families.
“All evidence we can gather to develop a comprehensive awareness of the impact of COVID-19 will position us to plan appropriately for our recovery out of COVID-19 and beyond.”
As stated by Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery:
“This is a landmark study and I am grateful to all the school communities who participated so willingly.
“School principals have been very supportive, and online training has been provided to school-based co-ordinators who are playing a key role in making sure families are well informed and the study is a success.”