Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) researchers stated that a stool test may be more effective than respiratory tests in identifying coronavirus infections among the younger age groups.
This form of test can better identify asymptomatic cases because stool samples carry the virus even after it has cleared a patient’s respiratory tract.
The method is especially useful among infants and others who have difficulty providing nasal or throat swabs, shared CUHK researchers in a press release on Monday.
The potential for stool testing in young people was a conclusion reached after researchers from CUHK's Faculty of Medicine carried out stool tests on more than 2,000 asymptomatic children and others who needed such tests who arrived at Hong Kong airport from March 29.
As of August 31, of samples collected, six children were confirmed with a Covid-19 infection.
Paul Chan, the chairman of CUHK's Department of Microbiology and Associate Director of the Centre for Gut Microbiota Research, said the viral load in the stool of infants and children was "many times higher" than that in adults, and could be equivalent to that of adult respiratory samples.
The activity of viral infection and replication also persists longer in the guts of infants and children, he said.