I recently (a few weeks ago) had a bit of a cough, headache and sore throat so thought it would be worth doing the right thing and getting tested for the virus SARS-CoV-2 since it was recommended.
Whilst I didn't particularly think I had COVID-19 (the disease caused by the Coronavirus), to make 100% the only way to know was to get tested. That is primarily what this blog post is about; my experience in getting tested.
So in terms of some background, I live in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Near a town called Berwick, which was where the local testing centre was located (although a significant number of medical centres also conduct testing).
The testing centre was run by a healthcare provider called Monash Health, when I arrived (it was a Sunday) there was a marquee set up outside to manage queues (in terms of rain), I was asked to use hand sanitiser and then put on a surgical mask whilst I waited in the queue.
I would estimate there was around 15 – 20 people in front of me waiting to be tested, it was initially suggested the queues might be smaller at another testing centre around 30 mins away, with estimates of the wait time being around 1 hour (although I'd say 35 mins and I was finished).
Once I got inside the building, I was asked for my details and given a peice of paper which contained a heap of bar codes with my details, I waited another 5 or so minutes and was seen by the doctor for the test itself.
The process was fairly simple, I was asked to confirm some details, asked why I needed to be tested, my symptoms and so on. The process of swabbing was then explained and that I would need to self-isolate until I received the results which could be between 3 – 5 business days. If I got a negative I would receive a text message (sms) whilst a positive would mean I would be called and we would go from there.
Now for the bit I suspect most people are here for, the test itself. This involved one swab being used for a combined throat and nasal swab. The throat swab involves the swab being put into the back of your throat towards the tonsils and swabbed for around 15 seconds, whilst uncomfortable it was not terrible.
The nasal swab however was different, the swab is put down your nostril towards the sinuses and swabbed for about 15 seconds. This causes a bit of a burning sensation almost like getting chlorinated water up your nose. It lasts for about 1 or so minutes, and in my case caused me to tear up as it was being done and pull back a little bit.
Once I was done, within about 1 – 2 minutes I was back to normal and the burning and eye watering stopped. I was given an explanation document and waited for the results. Thankfully these arrived the next day by about 11am.
All in all I would say the process was fairly good, whilst I would not jump at the opportunity to get tested, it was an important test to get done given I can often be around vulnerable people due to my work. If you are in doubt, and testing is available to you it would be a good idea to get tested if you have symptoms. I so often hear that this is just like a common cold but the reality is that we don't know that, and anecdotally there is some concern around what some of the lasting impacts of infection may be (e.g. on the lungs).
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