Nova Scotia Health and IWK Health launch swish and gargle video for kids who need COVID-19 testing

Nova Scotia Health and IWK Health have created a video to walk kids through the steps of what to expect from a swish and gargle COVID-19 test.

Swish and gargle testing is offered at all COVID-19 primary assessment centres across the province for children aged four to 18. 

View the Kids’ Swish and Gargle Test video.

“It’s really easy and it doesn’t hurt,” says Grace, the young woman who hosts the two-minute educational video. 

“All you have to do is swish and gargle with salty water. If you can’t gargle, that’s ok. You can still get tested with a nose swab. And just remember, because you’re getting tested, doesn’t mean you have the virus. It’s just a way to find out.”

Joanne Gallant, clinical leader of operations for the IWK Health Primary Assessment Centre, says, “Being able to offer the gargle test has been so great for both staff and patients/families. The kids leave smiling, are less anxious if they have to come back, and the staff are happy that they’re able to give children and families as positive an experience as possible during these stressful times.” 
 
There are steps children or youth need to complete BEFORE having the test.  
 
They must not: eat, drink, chew gum, brush teeth, smoke or vape for at least one hour before the test.  
 
Younger children do best when they practice the steps at home with water; just make sure if you do choose to have your child practice that it is done at least two hours before the test.  
 
For detailed written preparation instructions, please view the gargle instruction sheet (PDF)  
 
It is very important that children and youth who are using the gargle testing method follow these guidelines. If they don’t, they’ll have to have their COVID-19 test completed with a nose swab. 
 
During the procedure, the child and youth must wear their mask while swishing and gargling.
 
Note that if a child or youth does have difficulty completing the gargle test, the test cannot be repeated that day – they would have to be tested via swab collection or rebooked for a gargle test at a later date.

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Media contacts

Ben Maycock, IWK Communications & Public Affairs: 902-223-7090

Nova Scotia Health Provincial media line: 1-844-483-3344