An experiment on mass diagnostics of schoolchildren for coronavirus started in Moscow
Today, ten schools in Moscow have begun testing students for COVID-19. If the practice is successful, the city authorities will consider the possibility of such testing in other educational organizations. The mayor's office believes that such checks can become an alternative to distance learning. Parents of schoolchildren reacted ambiguously: some believe that this will protect their families from illness, others insist on the voluntariness of the procedure.
Moscow departments of health and education have signed an order to test schoolchildren and kindergarten children for coronavirus. According to the capital's headquarters, this was done “taking into account the deteriorating epidemiological situation in order to minimize the risks of disease and the spread of infection.” The experiment will involve schools # 548, 1363, 2123, 2030, 57, 962, 1788, 1253, Pokrovsky Quarter and Dmitrovsky. Pupils in grades 1-11 and preschool children will take rapid tests for COVID-19 every two weeks. According to the headquarters, this procedure will affect about 40 thousand children. When the experiment is over, the city authorities will consider the possibility of organizing testing in other educational organizations, said the vice-mayor of Moscow Anastasia Rakova on Wednesday. “We see that in the face of an increase in morbidity, a number of regions are switching to distance learning. We understand that this is an extreme measure that no one in the city wants to allow, and we are working out other possible mechanisms, ”said Anastasia Rakova.
The mayor's office reminds of the increase in the incidence among this age category. Children carry the disease in a mild form or asymptomatic, said Anastasia Rakova, while they are almost 1.5 times more likely than adults to transmit the infection to their relatives. Over the past month, according to official data, 2.5 times more school-age children fell ill in Moscow than in the past. Moreover, in the last two weeks alone, the number of cases increased by 42%. More than 280 children were hospitalized in a month, and since the beginning of the pandemic, 180 thousand Muscovites under the age of 18 have contracted the coronavirus. Earlier, Minister of Health Mikhail Murashko said that children 6-17 years old make up 12-13% of all COVID-19 patients in Russia.
The headquarters clarified that in preschool groups, testing will be carried out at a convenient time during the day. In school classes – in the second half of the lesson or during the classroom hour. The procedure, according to the headquarters, will take up to 25 minutes. The school itself decides who will collect the biomaterial: it can be teachers, and invited health workers, and the parents themselves – they must come within the “framework of the established schedule.” High school students can do the test on their own under the supervision of a teacher. If parents refuse express diagnostics, they can bring the results of a negative PCR test for a child taken in a polyclinic or a private clinic every two weeks.
At the same time, a positive rapid test does not mean that the child is recognized as sick. Children with suspicious results will be sent home after notifying their parents. Within 24 hours, the polyclinic will send a doctor who will conduct another express test and take PCR. If these tests turn out to be positive, all family members will be diagnosed, and the class will be transferred to 14-day distance learning.
Associate Professor of the Department of Infectious Diseases of the RUDN University Sergey Voznesensky has a positive attitude towards the experiment. He draws attention to the fact that, according to official statistics, of the newly diagnosed patients with coronavirus in Russia, only about 7-8% are asymptomatic carriers. “In fact, based on scientific evidence, there should be more carriers. According to some sources, they can make up 50-60% of the number of infected people, ”Mr. Voznesensky told Kommersant. If the experiment turns out to be successful, then it should be expanded to all educational institutions, and “maybe to municipal enterprises,” the expert said.
“I don’t think there will be many teachers who would oppose testing as such in principle. But I think there will be many questions about the organization, ”said Vsevolod Lukhovitsky, co-chairman of the Teacher trade union. In his opinion, teachers should not conduct express testing – this is the business of doctors.
Development Director of the National Association of Parents, Marianna Shevchenko, supports the idea of mass diagnostics of schoolchildren: “This is a war against coronavirus, and all means are good in war.” Yuri Solenov, executive director of the Union of Fathers, called the initiative “quite normal”. He expressed the hope that the results of the experiment will lead to the spread of the practice to other schools.
The Parents of Moscow movement (previously opposed to the introduction of distance learning), on the contrary, intends to fight against school diagnostics. “Any such actions can only be on a voluntary basis. Refusal from them in any case can not be the reason for denial of access to classes, “- said the chairman of the movement, Ilona Menkova. According to her, “in many schools,” some parents sign a statement addressed to the director to refuse such testing.
Natalia Kostarnova, Anastasia Kurilova