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Putting some fun into Covid-19 tests for kids

Mitch Clarke, September 12, 2021 3:00PM Herald Sun

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Harry, 7, tries out one of the moustache-shaped nasal swabs that will be trialled by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Picture: Alex Coppel media_cameraHarry, 7, tries out one of the moustache-shaped nasal swabs that will be trialled by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Picture: Alex Coppel


Reading level: green

Getting tested for Covid-19 could soon be a lot more fun for children across the world thanks to a new Australian made testing device.

The Rhinoswab Junior device – which comes in a range of colours and designs such as moustaches and cat noses – will be trialled at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital over the coming weeks following a partner study between the hospital and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

The device, which is placed at the base of the nose, is much less invasive* than the current PCR* test that takes a sample swab from deep at the back of the throat and nose.

New Coronavirus Device media_cameraThe new testing device will sit at the base of a child’s nose and collect any virus particles. Picture: Alex Coppel

Paediatrician Shidan Tosif said the new testing method had the potential* to turn an unpleasant experience into a fun process.

“We need to adapt to the growing need of a less invasive alternative* for children as we know each person, whether they are a child or an adult, are going to be subjected* to multiple Covid-19 tests as new variants emerge,” Dr Tosif said.

The trial comes after recent RCH research found that almost three-quarters of parents were concerned the standard PCR test might be stressful, painful or uncomfortable for their child, with 30 per cent indicating they were likely to not get their youngster tested.

About 250 children aged 4 to 18 will trial the device over the next six weeks.

New Coronavirus Device media_cameraHarry, 7, tries the new testing device with the help of his mum, Alison Preston, and Dr Shidan Tosif at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. Picture: Alex Coppel


  • invasive: requiring entry into the body
  • PCR: stands for polymerase chain reaction, it’s a test to detect for the presence of a virus
  • potential: ability to develop, achieve or succeed
  • alternative: another possibility or choice
  • subjected: the need for someone to experience or undergo something


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  1. What is the name of the new Covid-19 test for kids?
  2. Where is the new test being trialled?
  3. What is the name of the current Covid-19 test?
  4. What fraction of parents were concerned about using the current test for their child?
  5. How many children will trial the new testing device?


1. Design a device
The Rhinoswab Junior already has several fun designs and colours. Brainstorm a list of additional design ideas and then sketch and colour your 3 favourites.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Visual Arts

2. Extension
The RCH’s research found that 30 per cent of parents indicated they were likely to not get their child tested for Covid-19. Aside from the Rhinoswab Junior, what is another idea that you think could improve the testing experience for children and therefore increase testing rates? Write a paragraph explaining your idea and why you think it could be successful.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

What Makes A Good Idea?
A good idea, usually targets a problem and fixes it. In this case, parents wanted an easy way to test for Covid-19 on young children.

Can you come up with a good idea that will make someone’s life or something easier or better?

In 200 words or less, can you pitch your idea to us?

Include what your idea does or how it works, why it’s needed and who it will help. Try to be clear and specific, because you don’t have many words to use.

Re-read your pitch before you share it with a family member or friend.

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