What happened when I developed coronavirus symptoms in Kent on Christmas Day – Kent Live

On Christmas Day as I sat bloated and bare on my favourite armchair, a peculiar sensation crept over me: I felt dull.

Not dull as in boring (far from it dear reader) or dulled by the Christmas TV offerings (which were atrocious) but dull in the very real sense that my senses were nullified.

I couldn’t taste the chocolate nougat I was scoffing and my younger brother’s flatulence, while appalling to the rest of my family, elicited not a wrinkle from my nostril.

As I mused on this troubling development I began to wonder if my cough, which I had first passed off as a Winter bedfellow, could perhaps be something more topical.

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Thanking my lucky stars that I had not left my grim Tier 4 bubble since registering the cough earlier in the week, I grabbed up my phone and looked for the next available test.

After settling on a Canterbury walk in clinic and booking a Boxing Day slot, I informed my family that they were sadly compromised and let them make their peace with it.

It’s not the best Christmas present I’ll ever give them, but it’s certainly a memorable one if I do have it, and as I reassured my wailing brother we don’t definitely know if I do yet.

The long walk calmed my nerves
(Image: KentLive)

I would need to be tested first.

This is what a trip to a walk in COVID centre on Boxing Day is like.

The site was empty

There was not a soul to be seen
(Image: KentLive)

When booking my last minute festive COVID test on the government website I had been given a variety of different testing centres to choose from.

Considering Canterbury’s lofty infection rate of 624.0 I was expecting there to be high demand for a slot.

Thankfully there was a host of windows available and I was able to find a suitable slot with ease.

I had always secretly wanted to make use of a drive thru test centre as it looks quite novel but sadly the only centre it offered was at Manston Airport and I didn’t fancy getting stuck behind HGV traffic.

Sadly this meant I had to book in with the rest of the walking traffic and settle for a slot at the North Holmes Road site.

As I registered my details at the front of the gate which was flanked by a stern face masked warden I was struck by how empty the site looked.

The site was quiet
(Image: KentLive)

Testing sites, are by their very nature, awful places.

They are designed to look like waiting areas for Theme Parks except when you eventually get to the front you have a swab shoved up your nose rather than a front row seat on a thrill ride.

Of course, some people might get a thrill out of that, but it’s neither here nor there.

Patients test themselves

The instructions were laid out on the wall
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The queues were bare in the crisp morning air and I breezed through like a COVID president elect.

When I entered the marquee I had my rights read to me in the form of a tutorial and was introduced to the goings on of the centre.

Unlike what you may see on TV, the vast majority of walk in tests are administered by the patients themselves.

This surprised and alarmed me as I’m not the best with my hands at the best of times, especially when possibly infected with the novel coronavirus.

Still the kindly attendant assured me it would be simple enough and directed me to a booth where a list of instructions were waiting on a wall.

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I gagged, I cried

I was to swab my tonsils and nostrils and then place my infected material in a bio degradable bag ready to be sent to the centre.

As I shoved the hideous tube into my mouth and began the obligatory twist I gagged violently which reverberated around the canopy and brought the warden scurrying over in attendance.

I thanked him for his offer of assistance, though what he’d be able to assist with me I have no idea, and bravely soldiered on plunging the swab into my nostril and eking out a single tear in the process.

Into isolation I go
(Image: KentLive)

Exhausted, emotional and embarrassed, I handed my sordid bag to the attendant through the secure flap and ambled out of the tent into enforced self-isolation feeling every inch the bio-criminal I surely am.

I shall know my fate tomorrow (December 27), until then I am a man half condemned and to the wilderness I must go.