Cowie kids will be virus-tested

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Premier Mark McGowan.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan. Credit: supplied

Cowaramup Primary School will be one of the sites for the WA Government’s DETECT project to test students for COVID-19.

Eighty public schools will be involved in the population study, run by the WA Government with the Telethon Kids Institute, testing for the virus as well as its psychosocial consequences.

Fly-in, fly-out and frontline healthcare workers will also be involved in random testing of people without symptoms to gauge the full extent of potential community transmission.

School principal Peter Howse described the program as a “magnificent opportunity”.

“Our community is always one to help each other out or to support others in need,” he said.

“By being involved in this research, we get to contribute to local and State knowledge on the extent of COVID-19.”

Although the program was voluntary, he expected staff and parents to welcome the initiative.

“The data will give us great information and reassurance in continuing to move posi-tively forward,” Mr Howse said.

Schools were considered low-risk environments for COVID-19, the Education Department said.

With parents’ consent, children would be tested each month using non-invasive swabs.

Contact tracing was also part of the program, as well as keeping diaries and participating in interviews.

Liberal MP Libby Mettam, whose Vasse electorate includes Cowaramup, was pleased to see two schools from the region included in DETECT.

“This program ... should provide valuable information in addition to possible certainty around possible transmission,” she said. “Asymptomatic testing in schools, along with more accessible drive-through testing and point-of-call testing for FIFO workers, adds to the resilience of the region and will be an enormous benefit in terms of understanding more about the spread of COVID-19 within our State.”

Premier Mark McGowan, pictured, said the program was important to avoid complacency after WA had gone a whole week without recording any new cases.

Health Minister Roger Cook said DETECT would offer greater assurance to parents and the community.

“Testing people who do not have COVID symptoms from some of our key community sectors will help us better understand the health and economic impacts of this devastating virus,” he said.

“The team involved in the DETECT program come from a range of leading medical research institutes in WA, brought together by WA Health.

“I thank them for their efforts and I am confident this research study will provide vital insights to assist us in our ongoing battle with COVID-19.”

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