Between February and May 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we sent out a survey to all European paediatric sites within the Penta ID research network. The aim of the study was to describe the implementation of SARS-CoV-2 disease (COVID-19) testing and infection control strategies, and their evolution in paediatric emergency departments in Europe.
Although infection control strategies and even discharge of patients relied heavily on receiving SARS-CoV-2 test results, most hospitals only received these after considerable delay, often more than twenty-four hours.
Shortening turnaround times for tests should be a priority. Prior to discharge, infection control measures on uninfected patients awaiting test results place a huge burden on emergency care resources.
Most departments rightly responded by discharging patients while test results were pending. This does not, however, mitigate against the public health impact of delayed result reporting on efficient contact tracing and subsequent isolation or quarantine of contacts in the community.
Children and adolescents suffer serious consequences from school closures and allowing schools to stay open has positive social, psychological and economic implications. Benefits of broader access to testing may include the ability to detect outbreaks in day care facilities and schools earlier in order to limit spread of infections while maintaining as much normality as possible for children and adolescents.