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Daily testing of students exposed to COVID-19 at school could be a safe alternative to home isolation, a study in The Lancet suggests. The approach allows students to attend school and may reduce other negative consequences of isolating at home, according to the investigators.
In a trial, 201 secondary schools and colleges in England were randomly assigned to an intervention group or a control group. Students and staff in the intervention group continued to attend school after COVID-19 exposure there and received voluntary daily testing for 7 days with a lateral flow assay. Those in the control group self-isolated for 10 days after exposure.
In both groups, only about 2% students and staff tested positive for SARS-CoV-2—either with or without symptoms—after close contact at school with someone who had COVID-19.
Surprisingly, serial testing did not improve school attendance compared with isolation. The trial may have been underpowered to demonstrate this outcome, according to the authors.
Slomski A. Daily COVID-19 Tests Compared With Isolation After School Exposure. JAMA. 2021;326(20):2001. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.20471
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