Pediatricians urge corona test sites to use shorter cotton swabs on children
Pediatricians advocate a shallower corona swab test for children. There is enough evidence abroad that a shorter cotton swab also works fine. "Those tests are a lot less stressful."
It is not at all necessary to burden children with the stick that goes so deep into the nose. A shorter alternative, where a cotton swab is put in the nose, works well enough, Dutch pediatricians say. In Austria, all primary school students test it on a weekly basis. A deep nose test is also not required in the United States.
Nevertheless, the shallow method is not yet used in most municipal test sites, which may decide for themselves which validated tests they use. Shallow rapid tests are already the standard in Breda in Noord-Brabant. Test sites in Amsterdam also hope to start implementing shorter cotton swabs soon.
Since the reopening of primary schools, a class has to be quarantined once one student or teacher tests positive. The advice is that all children get tested on day five of the quarantine period. If it is negative, they can go back to school. The number of children getting tested has been increasing rapidly in recent weeks. In the first week of school on February 8, 8,153 four to 12-year-olds were tested, compared to 53,425 last week. Nevertheless, there is also a group of parents who do not want to burden their children with a coronavirus test. They have different reasons for this. One often heard is that they "really don't want to have such a long stick pushed into their child's nose."
The Dutch Association for Pediatric Medicine (NVK) advises pediatricians in all hospitals to use a less stressful method for children. Either a saliva test (also known as a swab) or else a shallow nasal test.
In the shallow nasal test, a slightly stiffer cotton swab is stirred in both nostrils of the child. Pediatricians describe it as "as if someone is picking their nose." The advantage is that more parents may have their children tested if the method is less stressful. "You can always overlook children, the risk is never zero," says physician-microbiologist Jan Kluytmans.