The World Health Organization said on Friday said that the COVID-19 tests should be carried out in schools in some circumstances in order to avoid the “harmful” effects of closures and remote learning
WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge said in a statement issued together with UNICEF and UNESCO, “The summer months offer a valuable window of opportunity for governments to put in place the right set of measures that will help keep infection rates down and avoid resorting to school closures.”
He added that closing schools “as we have seen, have such a harmful effect on the education, social and mental well-being of our children and youth.”
“We can’t allow the pandemic to rob children of their education and development,” said Kluge, who has repeatedly called for countries in the WHO’s European Region to address dropout rates and health effects linked to distance learning.
The WHO’s European Region spans 53 countries and territories and includes several in Central Asia.
The new recommendations published on Friday said that testing should be prioritised for symptomatic children with acute respiratory infection “of any severity” if they belong to a vulnerable group.
Also, the WHO said asymptomatic close contacts of Covid cases should be considered for testing.
However, testing is not recommended if no coronavirus cases have been detected in a school, the WHO said.
For the UN agencies, closing schools “should be considered only as a measure of last resort”, when there is an explosion of cases that cannot be controlled by other measures.