• It's hard to know when to get tested for COVID-19. (iStockphoto)
Not to panic, I thought. There's procedure for this.
By
Samuel Leighton-Dore

17 Mar 2020 - 12:33 PM  UPDATED 17 Mar 2020 - 2:04 PM

OPINION

It finally happened! I woke up this morning with a pretty bad dry cough. The cough arrived after several days of teetering flu-like symptoms including congestion, a sore throat, and mild light-headedness.

Not to panic, I thought. There's procedure for this.

Queensland's coronavirus case tally currently stands at 78, following a climb from 69 overnight. Efficient testing and self-isolation are clearly important. Given my location on the Gold Coast and proximity to those I felt were at high risk of exposure (I've spent time with film industry friends who were working with Tom Hanks, while attending crowded supermarkets to stock up, sensibly, for self-isolation), I consulted a few 'coronavirus flow-charts' and quickly gave my local GP a call.

Explaining my circumstances to the GP, I was told to go the Gold Coast Hospital, where COVID-19 testing is taking place. I asked whether I should call ahead, but was assured that a call was unnecessary. So I packed my tote bag with hand-sanitizers and my laptop, popped on my face mask, and headed for the hospital.

But it was a short trip.

Upon arriving at the testing desk, I was told to go to my GP - the same GP who told me to go to hospital. The health professional explained that they wouldn't be conducting tests on anyone who hasn't 1) Just returned from overseas, or 2) Come into contact with someone who has been confirmed positive to COVID-19.

Technically, I didn't fill the criteria.

"We're not testing you," she said, straight to the point.

"Go home, stay at home."

True to form, my knee-jerk response was to feel embarrassed about having tried to get tested.

Maybe I was being hyper-vigilant. Maybe I'd simply misunderstood the deluge of information (easy to do at the moment). Maybe it was just my anxiety shining through. As someone with acute anxiety, it's been increasingly hard to navigate rational and irrational thoughts recently.

I understand and respect the shortage of testing kits, and the need to be somewhat selective. But the lack of clarity and uniform procedure to testing feels unsettling. When my trusted GP is getting different information from those doing the COVID-19 testing, it's tough to know if you're overreacting or, well, under-reacting. It feels like we've either got COVID-19 under better control than we think, or under much less.

In the meantime, I'll be continuing to self-isolate - counting my lucky stars that, unlike my husband, I'm able to work from home.

 

As of Tuesday afternoon, only people who have recently travelled from overseas or have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case and experienced symptoms within 14 days are advised to be tested.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor, don’t visit, or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

Coronavirus symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia, according to the Federal Government's website, and can include a fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath.

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