School testing blitz finds no new COVID-19 cases

·1 min read

Hundreds of COVID-19 tests conducted at two Ottawa schools detected no new cases, the city's medical officer of health said Thursday.

Public health officials swabbed about 200 staff, students and some of their family members at Manordale Public School in Nepean on Sunday, in addition to about 100 students and staff at another undisclosed school the previous weekend.

All the subjects were asymptomatic, and included close contacts of confirmed cases as well as a random sampling of others within the school community, said Dr. Vera Etches.

"That's encouraging so far. We're going to continue ... to examine the situation in other schools," Etches told CBC's Ottawa Morning on Thursday.

"We are finding when we bring the testing to the school community, more people are likely to be tested."

In Toronto, similar asymptomatic testing at Thorncliffe Park Public School this past weekend saw 18 students and a staff member test positive.

In a statement to CBC, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) spokesperson Darcy Knoll thanked everyone who took part in the voluntary testing.

"It is wonderful to see the school community come together in an effort to stop the spread of this virus," Knoll said.

An outbreak was declared at Manordale on Nov. 23, several days before the asymptomatic testing began. Three students and one staff member tested positive in the outbreak.

Ottawa Public Health told CBC it will continue to test in schools where there's a benefit to the school community, or to its own COVID-19 surveillance work.

Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, whether they belong to a school community or not, should book a swab at a regular COVID-19 testing centre, public health officials say.