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How to give your child a COVID-19 rapid antigen test

Watch this short video to see how to perform a COVID-19 rapid antigen test on children aged five to 12.
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If you’ve struggled to perform a COVID-19 rapid test on your child, BC Children’s Hospital and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) have created a video to help.

Though test kits may vary, this video shows the basics of how to do a test as well as the dos and don’ts of rapid testing. For instance, don’t touch the swab tip because it can contaminate and invalidate the test. Also, children should blow their nose before the test as excess mucus could affect results. It also helps bring viral material to the front of the nose.

Specific instructions for the different types of tests are on the BCCDC Rapid Testing at Home website.

More testing tips

The swab should go in one to two centimeters into the child’s nose, about the width of a nickel, or until you feel resistance. You don’t need to go all the way back. Circle the swab around the child’s nasal wall. You’re trying to swab as much of the inside of each nostril as possible.

Do not use the swab for testing if there is any blood on it. Blow your nose again and use a clean swab, if there is no blood present. If you have had a nose bleed, wait 24 hours before trying again.

Do not swab the throat or cheek in addition to the nostril. Swabs with an indented break point (that allow the swab tip to break off into the test tube) could break off into the mouth and pose a choking hazard.

Some tests call for the nostril to be pressed against the swab as it is twisted in the nostril, as well. 

The swab can be squeezed and swirled in the test tube of buffer solution according to the directions on the BCCDC Rapid Testing at Home website. Tap the tube lightly to get out any bubbles because they can affect test results.

Make sure the solution drops into the sample well, not the results window and read your test after the time recommended in the instructions. Positive results can appear earlier.

Pictured above: positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test with a dark line.

​Pictured below: positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test with faint line​.

Some positive results can have very dark or faint lines, which is normal. Even if the positive line is faint, this still means your test is positive. Use a light (e.g., smartphone flashlight) to get a better view.

Throw away the testing material, wash your hands and clean the area.

Please see the BCCDC Rapid Testing at Home website to see what you should do after you get your test results.

For information on COVID-19 and children, see the BC Children’s and BCCDC websites.

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