Ramping Covid testing for kids may cause false sampling

Ramping up Covid testing for kids may lead to false sampling: BBMP

The civic body feels finding children for Covid tests will be particularly challenging with the staggered school timings

Representative image. Credit: DH file photo

Ramping up Covid tests for children and sticking to the state government’s daily target of testing 10% of kids will only increase fake swabs, the BBMP believes. 

The civic body feels finding children for Covid tests will be particularly challenging with the staggered school timings. 

For starters, schools running class 9 to class 12 discourage children who have fever, cold or cough from attending offline classes. The Palike fears setting up testing camps outside schools will meet with resistance from parents. Moreover, the overall school attendance itself is poor — 43.86% for class 10 and 41.17% for class 9 on Day 2. 

Student turnout in Bengaluru South schools was a meagre 39%, while in Bengaluru North it was 29%. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has a target to test 7,500 children a day.

Read | Test 10% of non-Covid paediatric cases: BBMP to hospitals

Meanwhile, districts like Chikkamagaluru, Kodagu, Hassan, Udupi and Dakshina Kannada, where schools are not open since the positivity rate is more than 2%, are reluctant to meet the minimum target of testing children. Kodagu, for instance, must test 300 kids a day. 

BBMP Special Commissioner (Health) D Randeep told DH that there were 35 lakh children in the city. “To scale up is tough now as malpractices may happen where they send empty vials without actually taking the swabs. We had such things happen earlier when we increased the testing target suddenly,” he said. 

He said it would be challenging to take swabs from children below 12 years. “They don’t cooperate. We can only target adolescents in the 13-18 age group. Unlike adults, we don’t find children coming to markets or high footfall areas unless they’re in a mall or a park with their parents, who say they’re fully vaccinated and don’t consent to test their children,” Randeep added. 

The special commissioner also admitted that civic health officials do not have many paediatric primary or secondary contacts to test. “So testing will become non-targeted. Even apartments’ containment zones have come down to double digits,” he said. 

The BBMP will now focus on testing children accompanying their mothers to 26 maternity homes and six referral hospitals of the BBMP. “There is a fair number of children who come there. Though not all of them will be symptomatic, we can still convince them for an RT-PCR as a precaution. I doubt all of this adding up to ten percent though,” he said. 

Mysuru District Surveillance Officer Dr Shivaprasad told DH, “Mysuru district’s target is very high. We must test 1,400 children. We can only test symptomatic kids who come to our health centres,” he said. 

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