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.’
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.