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Our Covid swab experience: “not too bad”

August 18, 2020

Our Covid swab experience: “not too bad”

Despite recent reports of overwhelmed labs, Shoshana Maasland received her son’s result in less than 24 hours. Image: Tom Wolf CC

“Mum, I don’t feel well,” are the words a parent never wants to hear in the midst of a pandemic outbreak.

Two days ago my 11-year-old son didn’t want to get out of bed. He was sneezing, coughing and looked and sounded awful.

Like most of Auckland we’ve been keeping to our bubble since we went into Level 3 lockdown last Wednesday, and we are not aware of any contact we may have had with existing cases.

I’d heard reports of long queues outside Auckland Covid testing stations and didn’t relish the thought of waiting for hours for a test.

Nevertheless, it felt like we should take a cautious approach, so yesterday I called our family GP practice to ask them what I should do.

Within seconds, the practice nurse had booked us in for a Covid swab that afternoon. We simply needed to turn up.

My son and I donned masks as instructed and hopped in the car. He wasn’t thrilled about having to get swabbed, although mused that it made a nice change to be in a moving vehicle again after days at home.

We arrived at the clinic, where we were surprised to find that not only was there no queue, there were no other patients on site.

The clinic had been partitioned with screens to keep patients apart, and we were to be seen before any others arrived for their afternoon appointments.  Seeing all the precautionary measures in place felt reassuring.

We were whisked straight into a consultation room, where we were greeted cheerfully by our family GP, who was masked, gowned and wearing protective gloves.

After asking the usual questions about symptoms, checking my son’s temperature and looking into his “rather red and inflamed throat”, the GP told my son he would take a swab but reassured him that it would be “very, very gentle”.

My son hoped for throat swab; the doctor replied with regret that only nasal swabs were available, although he confirmed they had plenty of those – contrary to recent reports.

The actual swabbing was a surprisingly quick procedure; at my estimate it only took two seconds.

My son tilted his head back and the doctor carefully guided what looked like the extra-long, skinny cotton bud about a third of the way into his nostril.

My son didn’t flinch.  To an onlooker, it didn’t appear too invasive a procedure. True to his word, the GP was very, very gentle.

We headed home to wait for the result, which the GP told us would take up to 48 hours; longer than the usual 24 hours because of the current high volumes.

The result arrived well short of 24 hours. At 8am this morning we received a text message confirming a negative result.

My son’s verdict on the Covid swab experience?

He shrugs, “not too bad”.

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