British Columbia, Canada launches its new COVID-19 gargle test method for people aged 4 to 19 in the province since its announcement on Thursday, September 17. British Columbia’s (B.C.) provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that it is “one of the first of its kind around the world” at a press conference on the same date. According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, the new gargle test is as accurate as the normal nasal swab test, and is easier to administer to children. “This is a new saline gargle where you put a little bit of normal saline, so sterile water, in your mouth and you swish it around a little bit and you spit it into a little tube and that’s an easier way to collect it for young people,” explained Dr. Henry. B.C.’s priority for the gargle test are children, but the province’s health sector plans to expand it to adults in the coming weeks.

The testing came into fruition when a news report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. last September 11 stated that children with mild to no symptoms can potentially spread the virus. “COVID-19 is less severe in children than it is in adults, but children can still play a role in transmission,” Dr. Cuc Tran of CDC wrote in the report. Public health officials say that there has been a surge of Canadian patients aged 39 and below, and this resulted in a 123% increase in cases since August. Canada’s positivity rate remains at 1.4%, however, as the new testing method is being used.