Like many countries around the world, we are in lockdown in New Zealand. That means everything is closed except for workplaces classed as ‘essential services’. Being involved in food safety testing, I still must work though, and I don’t have the luxury to work at home.
Recently though, I started to get ‘cold like’ symptoms. Given that I must work around other people, I decided to ring up our National Health Service for advice. I didn’t want to take the chance that I had Covid 19 and spread it to others.
The awkward phone call.
Firstly I rang up our ‘healthline’ number. After waiting for ages, someone answered and they were hilariously incompetent. I told them my symptoms and where I was based. They seemed to have no understanding of New Zealand geography, and spent ages trying to find a testing station near me, suggesting places on the other side of the country to me. Finally they found a place in my city, although it was still quite a drive from where I was, and they gave me a phone number. They didn’t tell me to go get tested though, they said to ring my GP first. Well what a waste of time that was.
You can’t be tested unless you meet certain criteria.
I then rang my GP, and they suggested I get tested. Here’s the thing, you can’t just go and get a test done, you must have a referral. Initially the criteria was along the lines of:
- High fever
- Shortness of breath
- Recent overseas travel or contact with someone from overseas.
Can you see the problem with that? Many people had Covid-19 symptoms, but because they had no overseas link, they were refused to be tested. Now however, the testing has been relaxed. Having a cough, headache and sore throat was apparently enough.
So finally I rang up the number which healthline gave me, they straight away booked me in for a test and found a place only a short drive away. Now that is competence, and I’m not sure why the first person I called struggled with that.
The testing process.
My testing station was in a hospital car park. I arrived at the hospital entrance in my car, and a masked man approached me for some details and told me ‘I was at the right place’. I then parked and had to stay in my car until they would call me for the test. About 40 minutes later I was called up and drove to the front of this tent. It was going to be drive through testing, where you don’t leave your car. At this point, I was feeling pretty nervous. What exactly was going to happen? Would it hurt a lot?
Finally I drove into the tent and a nurse approached me. She basically wanted some verification details and to check that I had been referred. That went fine, and she gave me a tissue to blow into. After that, she got out a long cotton swab, and told me to lean back. Then they stick it up your nose, and I don’t just mean your nose, they keep going as far as they can. It was the longest 5 seconds I’ve felt for a while. Here’s a diagram depicting the procedure:
After that, I was free to go. The process is quick but you may have to wait a while.
Now I must stay in self-isolation for at least 2 days until I get my results back. To be honest, I don’t think I will have Covid 19, but it pays to have some assurance.
Cover Image Source: James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.