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Niagara Falls
Friday, July 12, 2024
Editorial: What’s it like to get a COVID test?

It's a strange time we're living in — the smallest cough or runny nose can put us into a state of panic, wondering if we might have contracted COVID-19.

So what does it look like, from start to finish, to get tested for COVID?

Recently my partner and I had a COVID scare. While out for breakfast (in a diner full of older folks, no less) I started to have the uncontrollable urge to cough. I went through a handful of napkins blowing my nose. And I felt exhausted.

Naturally, my mind was screaming at me, “You've got COVID! You're going to infect everyone here! Get out!”

So, we finished up quickly, left the diner and did the responsible thing by cancelling our work and interviews for the next couple of days and calling to schedule a test.

From there, the whole experience took about three days. Day 1, shortly after breakfast, we called to book a test. We were told we would receive a call back within 48 hours — not too reassuring if you're worried about a deadline for work, but a reasonable timeline.

After that, we went directly home and isolated.

In the meantime, I kept trying to go over everywhere I'd been in case it turned out I did have it and needed to report it for contact tracing.

The next day we received a call in the morning with a same-day appointment. We were instructed to go to the St. Catharines hospital site on Fourth Avenue for our test.

When we arrived, there was no line, which we assumed was the result of changes to testing across the province. A positive (spare the poor choice of words).

We got to the small testing centre at the rear of the hospital and were bombarded with signs warning not to take photos or videos during the process, and we waited for someone to come out.

We were given swab tests, through the nose. It was a quick process — but it was not the most comfortable thing.

They arrived with a long swab that is essentially a piece of wire with bristles at the end of it, about the same width as a pipe cleaner, and they shove it deep into your nasal cavity — it almost feels like they're touching your brain through your nose, especially when your eyes start to water.

My partner did not find the process quite as traumatic. Her mother, who had a test before, said it helps to breathe in when they insert the swab.

Then came more waiting from home. We were told that our results would be available within three or four days — though we knew from experience of other family members getting tested it was likely we'd have results the next morning.

Sure enough, by 11 a.m. the next day our results were back — both negative.


It goes to show a couple of things. Firstly, it isn't such a pain to get tested, minus the nose swab, which is tolerable. And, at least in our case, the whole process worked smoothly and quickly.

So, if you have symptoms, get a test. It could help save a life. Plus, if you're not infected, it provides peace of mind to know so with semi-certainty (the form they give you warns the tests are not 100 per cent accurate and that if you were recently infected it might not show up on the test yet).

It also shows that with the cold and flu season coming on, it's easy to convince yourself you might have COVID. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, do the right thing and get tested.

And yes, we should be listening to our medical experts, not the doctrine of YouTube and social media.

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