Saskatchewan opposition wants PCR COVID-19 testing for kids 5 and under

The Saskatchewan opposition wants to bring back public PCR COVID-19 testing for kids five years old and younger.

Last month, the province limited access to PCR testing to those considered at highest risk of severe outcomes.

During question period on Monday, March 21, 2022, the Saskatchewan NDP cited studies suggesting COVID-19 may result in lower IQ and higher incidence of diabetes. Interim leader argued these potential risk factors justify bringing back wider access to PCR testing.

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“As for kids under five, though that’s obvious, they can’t be vaccinated. They have no protection. They have added risks of long COVID,” said Ryan Meili, Saskatchewan Opposition interim Leader.

“(This) allows them and their parents to have the piece of mind or at least knowledge that COVID-19 was part of the picture.”

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In response, Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman pointed to the fact that more than 18 million rapid tests have been distributed in the province and that he is confident a doctor would order a PCR test if a young child showed serious symptoms.

“That’s nothing that would come out of my office,” said Merriman. “If a doctor needs to do a test in an emergency room situation, I’m sure that they would order the adequate test for whatever it is that they are seeing in front of them.”

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In response, Meili refuted that claim, saying as a physician himself he knows it’s not that easy. NDP MLA Carla Beck added that there is a difference between rapid tests and PCR tests and questioned if the province will add children under the age of five to the list of those who are eligible to receive a PCR test in Saskatchewan.

Merriman added the province is putting together what he calls a “working group” to study the impacts of long COVID-19.

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