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Health Minister Defends Use Of Rapid Flow Tests

The Health Minister says the rapid flow coronavirus tests 'have a use in the right context' following reports in the UK of a high-rate of false negatives.

Those tests, which have a turnaround time of around 30 minutes, are due to be offered to staff and students in Jersey secondary schools.

They were used in Liverpool to detect asymptomatic cases in November, but research found that it failed to find 60% of positive cases.

Deputy Geoff Southern says he's concerned that students and staff could test negative but have the virus.

But Deputy Richard Renouf says the voluntary PCR tests taken at the beginning of term showed only small amounts of infection.

"The antigen testing had been recommended for monitoring that situation, so we would be able to tell by any positives that arise whether or not the rate of transmission, the increase in numbers, presented a risk and then take further mitigating factors should that situation present itself."

Any rapid flow tests that come back positive have to be backed up by a PCR swab.

It's still not known exactly what percentage of staff and students in Jersey volunteered to get a PCR test before term started last week.

Channel 103 asked the Acting Education Minister Deputy Jeremy Macon last week, who said he was seeking the same information.

When asked in the States Assembly this afternoon, Deputy Renouf said he didn't have those details.

It was reported to be a rate, among students, of around 50%. That has not been confirmed.

The PCR swabs took place between 1 January and 10 January. The government says 1900 members of staff and 1500 students got a test.

There were fewer than ten positive cases recorded.

Deputy Renouf says he's hopeful that more will agree to get tested now the rapid flow tests are to be offered in secondary schools.

The government says two more schoolchildren have tested positive since last Friday 15 January - one who goes to Grainville and one who attends Plat Douet.

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