The study found that daily testing saw 4% fewer infections, and scientists believe this figure could have been as high as 14% if all staff and students participated. In the group that continued to self-isolate, 1.8% of school days were affected, compared with 1.5% in those that tested daily.
Using testing rather than quarantines for contacts reduces the stigma on those who test positive, the researchers said, because an infected student’s friends don’t have to stay home automatically. That leads to people being more transparent about their Covid-19 status, said Bernadette Young, clinical lecturer in infectious diseases at Oxford.
“We know that quarantine comes along with ill effects and potential harm for those forced to do so,” Young said. “The consequence of testing positive is that all your friends need to isolate. If you have less of a penalty, you are going to be more upfront.”
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