"Chewing stick" tests being introduced in schools for Covid-19 testing

  • 2021-09-09
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - "Chewing stick" tests will be introduced in schools for Covid-19 testing, Minister of Education Anita Muizniece (New Conservative Party) said during a press conference on Thursday.

According to the Minister, the introduction of "chewing sticks" in schools will be gradual, so saliva tests will continue to be used in many schools in the coming weeks.

She said that when assessing the epidemiological situation in the country, ministers may later consider more frequent testing in schools, ie if testing will increase from once every two weeks to ten days, then - maybe once every seven days, but if epidemiological conditions will deteriorate to a serious level - testing could take place several times a week.

Testing in schools will be the same for everyone and testing will continue for all all non-vaccinated people who go to school.

Muizniece said that in the future the school testing working group will continue to meet every week to discuss the current situation. Meetings will also continue to take place at the ministerial level. The politician added - if necessary, the possibility of applying more frequent testing on a random basis will be assessed. Currently, the frequency of testing will be the same for everyone - every 14 days.

The new testing procedure will take effect upon the government decision.

As reported, students will take Covid-19 tests every two weeks, Health Minister Daniels Pavluts (For Development/For) and Education Minister Anita Muizniece agreed on Thursday, LETA learned from the Health Ministry. At the moment, students have to take Covid-19 tests every week.

However, if the number of positive Covid-19 tests increases significantly in Latvia, frequency of Covid-19 tests in schools may be revised.

In order to make the testing process more convenient and less time consuming, a new testing method in schools will be gradually introduced, which envisages testing one class as a single group. If the test is positive, only then will the students be tested individually.

This will facilitate work of both laboratories and educational institutions, as well as reduce the cost of Covid-19 tests.

Cabinet regulations will also be amended so children can take part in extracurricular activities with a document from their school, proving that they have tested negative for Covid-19.

Further information about testing students for Covid-19 will be provided during the next meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Last week, 295 students tested positive for Covid-19, which was 13 percent of the total number of new Covid-19 cases.

In-person epidemiologically safe schooling is a priority for both the Health Ministry and the Education and Science Ministry.