Working on the frontline: “The Covid test was thirty seconds of complete pain and discomfort”

I am a 24-year-old journalist working on the frontline during the pandemic. It was early hours of May 7, and I was showing symptoms of coronavirus. I had a high temperature and a new, continuous cough that kept me up the whole night.

Afraid that it could potentially be the disease, I rang emergency services and paramedics were there within an hour. Breathing became a chore, the insides of my lungs were desperate for more oxygen. It felt as if all the air had been sucked out of the room, and I was left struggling to breathe.

After the paramedics left, I booked a Covid test online and was allocated to Sparsholt College, near Winchester. I received a text message that said my appointment would be at 11.30am. The drive was taxing, and I ended up in the middle of a random field, thanks to typing in the direct postcode on the sat nav.

Minutes before my appointment was about to take place, I found Sparsholt College and saw a group of army personnel efficiently giving out tests to drivers. Two of them were inside the back of their army truck, methodically finding and allocating tests, ready to distribute it to the public. The instructions to the test were unclear and confusing and it took three attempts to understand what to do.

If there was a problem, I was told to beep on my horn for assistance. Due to the confusion caused by the misleading information on the nine page pamphlet, I was given a second test as the tissue was disposed of in the wrong way. Under strict rules to keep the window closed during the test, I inserted a swab deep through my nostrils.

It was kind of like breathing in water through your nose. Unfortunately, I had a gagging reflex and threw up in the car once the swab was forced down the back of my throat. It was thirty seconds of complete pain and discomfort.

I finally packaged all the swabs and tissues in a sealed bag and drove to the entrance to hand over the contents to the army. Test results would be available from 24 hours onwards, depending on the location. To my relief, I did not have to wait too long and tested NEGATIVE for coronavirus 48 hours later.

It was at this point I realised that the disease could claim anyone's life, including my own.

Coronavirus is not interested in how old you are or what you do, it could target the young, elderly and vulnerable and is relentless in its pursuit of claiming lives.

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