June 24, 2020

I had the Covid test – and this is what it’s like!

I had the Covid test so those around me don’t have to.

Yes I have a cold and I do tick some of the boxes for symptoms of Coronavirus, but not all the boxes. I can still taste and smell and don’t have a temperature. But as some people are testing positive with just a runny nose, I’m not sure how reliable those tick boxes are to ruling the virus in or out.

Why did I have the Covid test?

For two reasons: 1) a group of eight of us are due to go away for the weekend and I wanted to give myself and them peace of mind that I only had a cold. (At the time of writing I don’t have my test results back yet).

And 2) I was curious about what the swab up the nose was like and wanted to write about it to allay any fears or trepidation you, dear reader, might have if you too are considering getting a Covid test.

How easy was it to get the test?

Not at all easy actually! I live in New Zealand where we have been boasting to the world that we are Covid-free. Well we were for 24 days straight, then two sisters who had arrived from the UK and were in mandated quarantine got special dispensation to drive from Auckland to Wellington (about 8 hours if they didn’t stop) for a family bereavement – which was the reason they flew home.

The nutso thing is the Ministry of Health did not test Thelma and Louise (*not their real names) before they left isolation and what do you know, they are both positive and have potentially let the dogs out in the community.

So, all that to say, people are worried and coupled with the usual and expected bouts of colds and flu at this time of year in New Zealand, are queueing up for hours in their cars to get the Covid test. The test is free in New Zealand BUT…

I was in Hastings over the weekend when I started to get a scratchy throat. I HATE scratchy throats and colds and usually fly around like a banshee the minute one arrives to dose up on Vitamin C, echinacea, throat gargles and Nurofen to knock the bugger off.

Alas by the evening my throat was burning daggers and my chest was getting wheezy. Within hours it was a rolling chest cough and I was down.

So the next day (Sunday) I got my mum (who we were staying with) to drive me to the Hastings pop up Covid testing tent at the Hastings Medical Centre. It was pouring with rain and there was only one car ahead of us. The man came to the window under his umbrella and asked for my name. Uh oh. I was not on his list.

He said I had to go away and get a doctor’s referral, so as Hastings is not my home and I don’t have a doctor there AND it was bucketing down, we drove away – and got a meatball from Jackson’s Bakery in Havelock North. Shame as there was no line to be tested – unlike Auckland!

Hastings Covid testing centre
Turned away in Hastings with no one in the queue 🙁

The next day (Monday) I was in Napier at my mother-in-law’s house on our way back to Auckland. I still had a bad cough, headache and fully blocked sinuses so this time I phoned the Healthline and they put me onto Napier Doctors. I called but they said they were fully booked for Covid tests for the day, but I could leave my details and someone would call me back to make an appointment “another time”.

Day three (Tuesday) and I was now back home in Auckland so even though I was now feeling quite a bit better (although still coughing and a slight headache) I took myself to the Botany pop up testing station where I was told to “just rock up”.

Two hours later and pandemonium on the roads due to the long line and traffic unable to move past easily, it was my turn…

Waiting in traffic for covid test
Thank goodness for a huge data plan to play on my phone for 2 hours!

What was the nasal swab test like?

It’s like a drive-through only you don’t get a burger. They had only two staff on taking details on a clipboard: name and cell phone number, plus symptoms and questions including have I been around any recent travellers or am I an essential worker. No to both.

The piece of paper was put under my windscreen wiper and I drove on to the next tent where they took that info and input it into a computer, labeled a test-tube with a swab stick and put it back on my windscreen.

Covid testing line
Only two staff on – who told me at 3pm they hadn’t had anything to eat or been able to have a break to pee!

On to the next tent and two people dressed in PPE made friendly chit chat and told me to blow my nose first in a tissue she handed me. Then the nurse extracted a very long cotton bud to put up my nose. I asked if I could take photos. She said yes. I should have taken my glasses off so you could see my eyes!

It tickled a little bit to begin as the cotton went in. Like the feeling you get when you might sneeze. Then it kept going in and in and I could feel it turning in one direction a few times then she pulled it out. It was over in a matter of seconds.

It didn’t hurt. It felt weird though. And afterwards my nostril felt a bit like when you get water up your nose, you know that feeling?

Now I am waiting for the results…

The harmless looking swab
Covid swab test
Swab about half way in and at this point it feels tickly
Covid nasal swab test
Swab fully in and being turned. You can’t see my eyes but they are watering!

30 hours later…

Covid test result text
Phew!

About Megan Singleton

Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!

"I had the Covid test – and this is what it’s like!" - What do you think?

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