“Sit really still, mouth wide open and say ahhhhh. “
Quite simple, unless you are three years old and your mom pushes a long cotton ball to your tonsils to test coronavirus – or “the horrible germ” as my daughter describes it.
Cue a lot of wiggling, gagging and ultimately corruption with chocolate. It seemed to do the trick.
Two weeks ago, we received a letter inviting us to participate in what Health Secretary Matt Hancock called “vital research”.
Led by the Office for National Statistics and the University of Oxford, the ” COVID-19[female[feminine Investigation of infections “aims to find out how many people are infected or likely to have it, even if they did not realize it at the time.
During the first phase, 25,000 randomly selected people will regularly undergo nose and throat swabs to check for the virus.
A thousand participants will also have blood tests to see if they have antibodies – a sign of past infection.
The hope is to increase the number of people to 300,000 by the end of the year, making it one of the largest studies on viral infections and antibodies ever seen in the UK.
It is an important part of the national coronavirus effort, helping government scientists to track its spread, and as a family, we wanted to do our part.
From a more selfish point of view, we also hoped that regular testing would give us some clarity in these uncertain times and an idea of how we were affected – if at all.
I guess everyone felt the same. Going by phone to confirm our interest took several attempts.
When we finally did, we were told that a health professional would visit us in a few days. The first week came and went and we heard nothing, then a second passed. I called the hotline to find out what was going on and was told there were delays due to a lack of test kits.
Sunday night my phone rang and a nurse called Anna said she would be back the next day to do our first tests.
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It had to be a contactless visit so that she stayed outside at all times and we wiped her under her supervision.
At lunchtime Anna came in through the side door of our garden, handed in the test kits and gave us our instructions.
I first went to show the kids what was going to happen. The swab should be brushed on the back of your throat where your tonsils are located, then inside each nostril.
It is not painful but it is uncomfortable, which makes me vomit and I have watery eyes.
My youngest child, Freya, courageously volunteered to go next.
We prepared her using her so-called doctor’s kit beforehand, but she was a little confused as to why I was doing her test. “Mom, you’re not a doctor! “
The boys being boys, my two sons were fascinated by the idea of something to stick their noses in when normally it would mean revelation.
At seven, Jack is old enough to understand why it matters. He thinks that if he does, he could see his grandparents again sooner.
However, five-year-old brother Ollie found it very painful and swears he will never do it again.
However, he will have to get used to it, because we will be tested weekly the following month, then monthly for a year – 16 tests in total.
Who could have predicted a few months ago that this would become our new normal?