Our Experience of the COVID-19 Testby Emma Longden
It was inevitable, with three young children back at school and nursery, it was only a matter of time until the call came to say that we needed to go into isolation. My daughter had been experiencing symptoms of a cold for a few days when she also developed a slight cough alongside these, whilst at school. I was called to collect both her and my older son, who had no symptoms himself, from the school and was informed that the household would need to isolate until we had managed to get a test for my daughter.
Getting a test, especially at the moment as supplies are low, is quite difficult. You can only book a test online, as far as I am aware, and it is a case of inputting your details and then refreshing the page again and again in the hope that a test will become available. I did this numerous times over the course of around 12 hours before I was able to book a test at the nearest available site.
My advice before attempting to get a test online would be to look in advance at where test sites are within a 50-mile radius and to know in advance whether you will be able to make it to that test centre as you have a very limited amount of time to make a decision once the test is available. I faltered when it came to making the decision and the test was no longer available by the time I went to confirm the details, so have a plan in advance.
The test centre we were offered was 30 miles away, which meant a 2-hour round trip. This is the case for many people who are getting tests at the moment and was not too bad in all honesty. As you should be isolating, apart from getting the test itself, you will need to ensure you don’t need to make any stops en route. Pack snacks and activities for the car journey, and remember to read through your test email to check what you need in advance for the test centre. I needed to take along my daughter’s passport, as well as the email with the QR code for the staff to scan when we arrived.
The slots are for half an hour. We actually arrived 45 minutes earlier than our allocated time, but as the centre was quiet, they allowed us to do the test straight away. On arrival, you need to keep your windows up and allow the staff member to scan the QR code, checking the details they show on their screen against the window, to make sure they are correct.
We were then directed to drive further on, where a member of staff held up a sign with a mobile phone number to ring. They then spoke to me on the phone, whilst stood next to the car, explaining the process and what I would need to do next. They then requested that I open the window a small amount so that they could drop the test pack through.
As my daughter is seven years old, I was instructed to administer the test myself. The staff member had provided an additional leaflet with the test, which explained how to administer the test to a young child or baby, including tips such as giving the child something to do to distract them and to explain in a language they would understand, what was going to happen.
I had previously had a test done myself, so I knew what to expect and had tried to explain this to my daughter, but I knew it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience as it is quite an invasive test. It is important to have clean hands when holding the test so they advise wearing gloves or using a hand sanitiser. The swab needs to go into the back of the throat, where the tonsils are, not touching the tongue or other areas of the mouth, which is very tricky with a young child. The swab can make you gag, and this was the hardest part for me as a mother, putting the swab in when my daughter was upset about how it felt.
The same swab then needs to go into the nostril, until there is some resistance. Again, this is unpleasant, and my daughter was quite upset afterwards, however she soon cheered up once the test was over and done with, and understood how important it was for the test to be done. Once done, you put everything into the ziplock bag and signal for the staff member to check it before sealing the bag and dropping it back through the window into a plastic container to be sent off to the lab.
Results can take around 48 hours, but this may be longer whilst the service is so busy. Our results came through in around 32 hours, via text and email. Fortunately, the result was negative, and the
children were able to return to school after only two days off. The school required the negative result to be emailed across and it was quite straightforward. I feel more confident now, should it happen again. The Covid-19 test is not pleasant, but it is necessary, and I feel that the guidelines for administering the test to young children is informative and eased my concerns on the day. If you need to get a test, for a child who is exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus, my advice would be to prepare in advance, be aware you may need to drive some distance for a test. If you are able to book a home test, you may need to input your own details as the system doesn’t necessarily recognise a child’s, you can then register the home test for your child once it arrives in the post. This is something I was told on the helpline.