Rapid COVID-19 tests coming to some Montreal-area preschools and elementary schools

A health worker performs a 'SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen' test just after collecting a nose swab sample for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) at the coronavirus testing facility of Unisante, the university center for general medicine and public health, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

Rapid COVID-19 tests will soon be deployed in some Montreal-area preschools and elementary schools, the health ministry announced Wednesday.

The Panibo tests, which can provide results in as little as 15 minutes, will be administered in classrooms where at least one student has a positive case of COVID-19.

All students will then be tested for COVID-19, regardless of whether they are showing any symptoms. Teachers will not be tested, as they have a higher rate of vaccination coverage.

The tests will be brought to schools in Montreal North, Parc-Extension and Saint-Michel, "where the epidemiological situation is under surveillance due to the vaccination rate of the general population," according to a press release.

The approach may be adopted in other areas as the epidemiological situation evolves, the release continues.

"This measure is intended to be an additional tool to control the transmission of COVID-19 in schools in order to reduce the risk of outbreaks and to minimize classroom closures."

On Wednesday, about 61 per cent of the province's active outbreaks were in schools and daycares -- almost 50 per cent in schools and the remaining 11 per cent at daycares.

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