(Saline gargle test/Screenshot from video by PHSA)

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had an exciting announcement up her sleeve on the day the province recorded its highest ever daily new COVID-19 cases.

In an effort to make testing easier and more accessible after K-12 schools restarted this fall, the province is rolling out a new made-in-B.C. saline gargle test to detect COVID-19 cases available only for students.

“It is one of the first of its kind around the world,” said Henry at a press briefing on Thrusday.

“Unlike the nasal pharyngeal swabs, this is a new saline gargle where you put a little bit of normal saline or sterile water in your mouth, you swish it around a little bit, then you spit it into a little tube.”

This type of test is available for children aged four to 19 years at COVID-19 assessment centres.

“You don’t need to have it done by a health care provider; this is something that you can do with the help of your parents if you need it or by yourself.”

The move to replace nasal swab testing with this new saline gargle test is a way of making testing more efficient at COVID-19 assessment centres across the province, as the latter does not require the help of a health care professional.

For now, it is only available for children due to a limited supply.

As of Thursday, K-12 students have been back in classrooms for exactly one week. According to Henry, there have been a few COVID-19 cases among staff and students in that time “as expected” but no outbreaks were reported.

“None of these have been high risk exposures and everybody has been notified who needs to monitor for symptoms,” she added.

A how-to video guide on this new test for children has been issued by the Provincial Health Services Authority: