TESTING schoolkids for Covid daily is just as effective as sending them home, a study has revealed.
More than a million children are “needlessly” out of class due to the virus this week after months of disrupted education.
Schoolchildren have suffered months of disrupted educationCredit: PA
Researchers at Oxford University found 98.4 per cent of children who were told to isolate for 10 days never went on to test positive for coronavirus, The Telegraph reports.
Schools that conducted daily tests instead of sending pupils home saw four per cent fewer cases.
Experts reckon this could be down to youngsters being more open about who they had been in contact with as the consequences were less severe.
Either way, Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said the findings mean “unnecessary disruption” could be avoided with frequent testing.
He said: “It is always going to be tricky to define the relative effectiveness of isolation versus testing as there are lots of assumptions that need to be made.
“That aside, what this study shows is that daily testing rather than isolation of contacts is effective in preventing onward transmission.
“Crucially it also highlights the unnecessary disruption that isolation rules have had on countless children.”
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Professor Ball added: “Isolation of contacts is an important weapon in infection control but it is also crude.
“Rapid testing circumvents needless isolation, and it should be used more widely.”
Millions of children have missed out on face-to-face lessons thanks to the hated school bubble system.
Under it, if one child tested positive then entire classes often had to quarantine for 10 days.
But in a major win for pupils and parents alike, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced this week bubbles would be scrapped in favour of rigorous testing.
The effectiveness of rapid testing comes amid a push to end the ‘pingdemic’ which is seeing millions of Brits stuck in self-isolation.
Alarming figures show there are currently two million adults quarantining at home.
An estimated 6.2m have been ‘pinged’ or contacted by Test and Trace since the start of May, with 618,903 ‘pinged’ in just one week.
The sheer volume of people being put under house arrest – many of whom have been double-jabbed – has brought Britain to a grinding halt.
‘Pingdemic’ chaos has seen 999 patients waiting up to 20 minutes to get through.
Bin collections have also been stopped by worst-hit councils, while petrol stations are shut down by BP due to fuel and driver shortages.
Unions warned entire train lines could go down because of a lack of signalling staff.
Chilling pictures showed empty supermarket shelves and many stores reported major staff shortages.
And sandwich chain Pret a Manger temporarily closed 17 shops while Iceland shut several stores after 1,000 workers – four per cent of its workforce – were told to self-isolate after being ‘pinged’.
Daily testing rather than isolation of contacts is effective in preventing onward transmission.
Professor Jonathan Ball
The mayhem sparked ministers to announce emergency plans to keep Britain fed and help keep supermarkets stocked.
Lorry drivers and factory workers can now use daily Covid tests to escape isolation as long as they test negative for Covid daily.
But frontline supermarket workers, like check out staff and shelf stackers, are not expected to be allowed to sign up to the scheme.
The test and release programme will operate across around 500 sites like depots, distribution centres and factories.
Panicked ministers signed off on the plan after bosses threatened to revolt and tell staff to ignore self-isolation alerts to keep shops open and families fed.
The government also confirmed a small number of workers in critical areas like energy plants can skip isolation to stop Britain grinding to a halt.
Regular Covid testing will replace sending pupils home to self-isolateCredit: PA