A Positively Testing Experience

On my first day in the new job I was ‘lucky’ enough to get a coronavirus test. I had not had one before, but it was straight forward enough. I was instructed to sit still while a nurse jabbed a small stick up my nose and down my throat. For most people a first day at work would involve being sent for a long stand or to fetch the bubble for a spirit level so this was a nice change. Going back to work gave me a sense of purpose. It is nice to be useful and be able to contribute towards something.

               Work itself was a shock to the system. I had been offered the job nearly a month before, but it took an age to get the paperwork through and then when it did, I was instructed to be onsite tomorrow morning. By now, I was used to doing nothing. I had developed a pleasant routine of getting up late, scrolling through the internet and watching the world go by. Going to work made me use muscles that had previously gone to sleep and I left after my first day feeling like the tin man from Wizard of Oz.

               I was woken up by a text message early on Sunday morning (6th Dec). ‘NHS COVID-19 Notification: Test Date 02 December. Your coronavirus test result is positive. It means you had the virus when the test was done. Try not to worry.’

The message of doom

This was a complete surprize, I felt fine. Try not to worry is easy to say but since the test results had spectacularly missed the government imposed 24-hour deadline, I was unaware I was a carrier and went back into work on a further three occasions potentially spreading the disease to many other people.

               The rest of Sunday was a day of irritation. I got three further text messages telling me to fill in my contacts on a form they emailed to an address that I don’t recognise. Eventually they phoned and I discovered that not only was my email wrong but so was both my name and address, the conversation began like this:

               ‘Do you have any questions I can help you with?’ The NHS test and trace call operator asked.

               ‘Yes, I replied. The results took four days to come back, my name, email and address were all wrong and I feel fine. Are you sure this is meant for me?’

               ‘Unfortunately, yes, the results are correct’

               ‘How do you know?’ I countered.

               ‘It says so on my system’

               Well, if it says so on the system, it must be correct. No cause for doubt there. Anyway, I dutifully gave my contacts while the lady read through some generic information.

The next day, I checked in with work. After all, I was now having an unexpected week off (after working there for only three days) and had potentially exposed them all to a deadly disease. I was surprized to discover that despite me giving the details the previous day, nobody from Test & Trace had got around to telling them I was positive. I read with interest that UK Government have so far spent over £22 billion on this system, seems like money well spent.

               The rest of the week passed off without incident. As the results took so long, I only needed to isolate for six days and since there was only about 15 mins where it wasn’t raining, I didn’t really mind staying at home, in fact the week flew by. I also missed a ‘meet and greet’ from head office (so there are some definite silver linings to all this). In an odd way, I am pleased to have finally caught the virus (assuming I actually did!), it is one less thing to worry about, I feel I can relax a little now and my anti-bodies will give me more of my life back. Perhaps I will do something really reckless like go on a bus.

               Tomorrow, I am free to skip down the road like a caged bird released back into the wild. Except it will be raining so I will probably just stay in. It also means there is just one day left for NHS Test & Trace to actually call the contacts they were so keen I provided… Will they manage it? I know what my bets are on.

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