- The diagnostic sensitivity of observed and unobserved self-collected saline gargle samples for the molecular detection of SARS-CoV-2 in adults and school-aged children was evaluated against a reference standard of health care worker collected nasopharyngeal flocked swab. A total of 46 participants had a positive nasopharyngeal swab sample; of these, 10 were in the observed phase and 36 were in the unobserved phase. Only one matching saline gargle sample tested negative and this was in the unobserved phase, giving an overall sensitivity of 98%. Average viral target Ct values were higher in the saline gargle samples. RNaseP Ct values were lower in unobserved collected samples compared to observed collected samples. Unobserved self-collection of saline gargle samples is a promising outpatient testing method for COVID-19 diagnosis. The self-collection method has potential to simplify the diagnostic cycle and facilitate implementation of COVID-19 testing, particularly in settings with limited access to health care workers.