It was 10:02am as I pulled up behind a line of 14 cars in front of the Vandenberg Hotel, and within a few minutes there were more cars in line behind me. I felt a wave of relief wash over me to see so many others waiting to be tested for COVID-19, although this was not my first test.
Two months earlier I presented myself at Forbes Hospital with what I knew to be an all too familiar case of tonsillitis, I was given a mask and told very assertively by the receptionist to “step back!” from the marked line I was already standing behind. When the only other patient in the waiting room saw me, she slouched back and used her collar to cover her mouth. Thankfully, the nurse who took the swab was friendly and patient with my dramatic display of discomfort during that infamous nasopharyngeal swab which has since been replaced by a much gentler nasal swab.
The first time I was tested I was sure that I did not have COVID-19. However, this time upon hearing about last week’s case in Parkes, I wondered if this cough of mine was due to a change in season or a mild case of COVID. If it was the dreaded COVID, how many of my friends, contacts and family members would be forced to self-isolate? How many people did I, at best, inconvenience greatly or, at worst, put at risk? Would I be lynched? Word spreads quickly in small towns and it would not take long before I became the hottest topic in town.
These fears of mine were eased in seeing so many others in line to be tested on Monday, and while it meant that I had to wait over half an hour to be tested it will be a relief to have a negative result back.
The drive-through process was easy enough, firstly a man came to hand out information about registering to receive a text message for a negative result. Secondly, a woman came to take my details before placing the paperwork on my windscreen for the nurses in the final pathology gazebo. Finally, the nurses took my temperature, swabbed my mouth; so far so good, and took a nasal swab, which was thoroughly unpleasant but over in just a few seconds.
By Alexandria Irvine