16 February 2021

Get tested

The whole pandemic had seemed quite far away this whole time. It dominated my life, of course, as it decided I had to work at home and couldn't travel and couldn't see people and all these things, but that was more government measures than the pandemic itself. And then one early evening I suddenly got a text from a friend. She had been contacted by Track and Trace; she had been in touch with someone who had subsequently tested positive, so she had to self-isolate. And, ominously, she was feeling ill herself. So what did that have to do with me? I don't see anybody, do I?

Well, actually I did. That same friend had phoned me on Monday morning, quite upset. She really needed a listening ear and I told her she was welcome. So a bit later she showed up. I served coffee and cake, and I listened. And it seemed to have made a difference! And was that a breach of restrictions? Well, that is open to interpretation. The rules explicitly say "You are allowed to provide care for or to help someone who needs it, such as an older person, a child or a vulnerable adult, even if they are not part of your household or support bubble." And I count this as an example. There is protection of life, and there's also protection of quality of life. I already knew this friend was a rather sociable person who hadn't taken well to lockdown, and I also knew she was struggling with work-related stress. And things had clearly got too much! So I stand by my decision to invite her. But now that had taken an interesting turn. 

The first thing I did the next morning was phone my dentist, with whom I had an appointment that very morning. That just didn't feel right. I hate cancelling on such short notice, but I'm sure a dentist prefers that over rummaging around in the mouth of someone who has been in touch with someone who had been in touch with someone who had tested positive.

The next thing I did was get myself to the nearest test centre. The University has its own! The big glamorous hall that is used for graduations is now just that. And me going there was slightly more complicated than it should have been; I flashed my card at the barrier of the parking lot but it denied me access. And the building itself did the same. Luckily you can see the people in reception from the door, so I just waved at them and they let me in.

From there things were easy. The lady at the entrance to the hall talked me through the whole process of signing in digitally, and then I went to a booth, stuck a swab into my face, put it in a vial, then walked out again. It was such a quick process!

I then had an additional task; get to the library to check why my card wasn't working. The library is just downhill from where the testing centre is. And I very safely handed my card through the crack of the door. The librarian saw there was indeed a problem, and made me a new one. Problem solved!

Before I was home again I got the text with the result: it was negative. Good! That was what I had hoped. And with this negative test I was confident to go for a run again. And so I did!

The next day I went back for my second test. These quick tests are not very precise, so you get a much more statistically robust result if you go more than once. And again it was a really fast experience. And again the test was negative! And by the time I received that result I received the news from my friend; she had tested negative as well. She had sought medical attention in the meantime and her symptoms had been ascribed to something not Covid related. So all was well in the end! And she was also discussing reducing work-related stress with her boss, as of course the pandemic had not been the only problem here.

After the second negative test I considered the matter closed, and felt free to do things such as go shopping again. The pandemic had never been this close, but I was glad it turned out it still hadn't been anywhere as close as I had feared!

The University testing centre

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