Families of B.C. children awaiting antigen tests to get them soon

A health worker performs a 'SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen' test in Lausanne, Switzerland, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Laurent Gillieron / Keystone via AP

School-age children throughout B.C. who have yet to get their allotment of COVID-19 antigen tests will see them soon, though it’s taking a little longer than expected.

Test kits will still be made available through B.C. schools but concerns were raised last week by Health Canada regarding the potential misuse and children were no longer considered the ideal candidates to take them home.

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“It is recommended that any remaining distribution of Rapid Antigen Tests for Grades K-7 be direct to parent/guardians,” a Ministry of Health representative said in an email.

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“The Ministry of Education is working with school districts to ensure that families are provided with this up-to-date information about the tests they have or will be receiving.”

Read more: COVID-19: Central Okanagan school district delaying distribution of rapid test kits

The BCCDC has also updated its website guidance regarding rapid tests, in light of the news from Health Canada, noting among other things that these kits are intended to be handled and administered by adults and should be kept out of the reach of small children and animals.

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The Health Canada warning was issued after receiving approximately 50 calls to poison centres related to accidental ingestion or spillage, which have resulted in minor health outcomes. It doesn’t indicate whether these reactions took place among children.

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“Health Canada has determined that the kits are safe and effective when used as intended. However, many test kits include liquid solutions with chemical preservatives, such as sodium azide and Proclin that may be poisonous if swallowed or absorbed through the skin, particularly in children and pets,” reads the warning.

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While these kits are safe, effective, and beneficial for self-testing, the product labelling and instructions may not describe or disclose the risks associated with misuse or accidental ingestion, Health Canada said.

Health Canada said the advisory is intended to help fill that labelling gap, and warn Canadians about the risks associated with misuse.

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