Kids virus tested

Warren Hately and Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Cape Naturaliste College students and principal Mark Gillet with Education Minister Sue Ellery, South West MLC Adele Farina, City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley and Vasse MLA Libby Mettam
Camera IconCape Naturaliste College students and principal Mark Gillet with Education Minister Sue Ellery, South West MLC Adele Farina, City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley and Vasse MLA Libby Mettam Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

Cape Naturaliste College will be one of the sites for the WA Government’s DETECT project to test students for COVID-19.

Eighty public schools will be involved in the population study, run by the WA Government with the Telethon Kids Institute, testing for the virus as well as its psychosocial consequences.

Fly-in, fly-out and frontline healthcare workers will also be involved in random testing of people without symptoms to gauge the full extent of potential community transmission.

Cape Naturaliste College principal Mark Gillett said the school was “pleased” to contribute to the research study.

“Anything that helps to understand the extent of COVID-19 and the health of our community can only help in beating the virus,” he said.

“I have confidence that the study of 80 public schools will produce useful information to continue to keep our communities safe during the pandemic.

“Participation of students and staff will be voluntary but I hope that everyone who is asked will consider being involved. We will, of course, get the consent of parents before involving our students.”

Although the program was voluntary, he expected staff and parents to welcome the initiative.

Schools were considered low-risk environments for COVID-19, the Education Department said.

With parents’ consent, children will be tested each month using non-invasive swabs. Contact tracing is also part of the program, as well as keeping diaries and participating in interviews.

Liberal Vasse MP Libby Mettam, said she was pleased to see two schools from the region — CNC and Cowaramup Primary School — included in DETECT.

“This program ... should provide valuable information in addition to possible certainty around possible transmission,” she said. “Asymptomatic testing in schools, along with more accessible drive-through testing and point-of-call testing for FIFO workers, adds to the resilience of the region and will be an enormous benefit in terms of understanding more about the spread ... within our State.”

Premier Mark McGowan said the program was important to avoid complacency now WA had recorded no new cases in the past week. Health Minister Roger Cook said DETECT would offer more assurance to parents and the community.

“Testing people who do not have COVID symptoms from some of our key community sectors will help us better understand the health and economic impacts of this devastating virus,” he said.

“The team involved in the DETECT program come from a range of leading medical research institutes in WA, brought together by WA Health.

“I thank them for their efforts and I am confident this research study will provide vital insights to assist us in our ongoing battle with COVID-19.”

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