Coronavirus: Testing students every 2 days needed to reopen schools, Yale study says

A student walks on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut on November 12, 2015. (Reuters)

For American universities to safely reopen in the fall, all students on campus must be tested for the coronavirus at least every two to three days, according to a new Yale University study.

Researchers at Yale’s School of Public Health said that the frequent COVID-19 testing is needed for pupils due to “limitations on regulating student behavior on campus,” according to Yale News.

The team said it recognized that the findings “set a high bar” and “may not, in fact, be feasible.”

However, Dr. Kaveh Khoshnood, a professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health, said that the recommended protocol may be achievable with lower-priced tests.

“There are several companies producing less expensive tests - some using saliva instead of nasal swabs - that provide rapid results that can meet this need,” said Dr. Khoshnood in an interview with Al Arabiya English.

Technicians work at the new COVID-19 testing lab at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, Britain on April 22, 2020. (Reuters)

Technicians work at the new COVID-19 testing lab at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, Britain on April 22, 2020. (Reuters)

“I think in the absence of an effective vaccine, doing cheap tests every few days is the only safe way to reopen schools and businesses,” said Khoshnood.

“Frankly, I can’t think of any alternatives,” he added.

The study, led by Yale Professor A. David Paltiel, concluded that frequency of testing is more effective than accuracy of the tests, when it comes to preventing a significant coronavirus outbreak on campus.

A man walks at an empty campus green at Georgetown University, closed weeks ago due to coronavirus, in Washington on April 3, 2020. (Reuters)

A man walks at an empty campus green at Georgetown University, closed weeks ago due to coronavirus, in Washington on April 3, 2020. (Reuters)

“Testing every two days, even with a low-quality test will avert more infections than weekly testing with a higher-quality alternative,” said the report in Yale News.

It is not be sufficient for universities “to simply monitor students for the symptoms of COVID-19,” according to the report.

“Any school that cannot meet these minimum screening standards or maintain uncompromising control over good prevention practices has to ask itself if it has any business reopening,” Paltiel told Yale News.

Lena Landaverde, assistant director of the Precision Diagnostics Center, heads to the new COVID-19, on-campus testing labs after donning personal protective equipment, Thursday, July 23, 2020, at Boston University in Boston. (AP)

Lena Landaverde, assistant director of the Precision Diagnostics Center, heads to the new COVID-19, on-campus testing labs after donning personal protective equipment, Thursday, July 23, 2020, at Boston University in Boston. (AP)

Some universities, including Yale, are bringing a portion of students back to campus for classes in the fall, while others like Harvard University have announced the fall undergraduate semester will be taught solely online.

Harvard has said it will allow some students to live on campus, with the requirement that they will have to be tested every three days.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 11 August 2020 KSA 21:14 - GMT 18:14
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