The NHS has delayed the coronavirus testing of a National File reporter, despite showing consistent symptoms and attending CPAC with a diagnosed individual.
After the four days of work, networking, and drinking that was CPAC, I wasn’t surprised that on my return trip back to the UK on the 1st March, I had developed probably the worst cough I’ve ever experienced.
It was so bad that on the flight home, even though I had already been awake for hours on end, my sleep was consistently interrupted by waking myself up from the coughing.
When I eventually got home, I only felt worse. I was doubling over at some points with the violence of my coughing, and I started to develop some migraines by the following Wednesday, making it hard to concentrate on my work.
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Of course, at this stage, I was labouring under the assumption that while ill, there was little to no chance that I would have the coronavirus. I had heard that a number of my fellow CPAC attendees had come down with something, and so put it down to simply being in close proximity with a large number of people over a short space of time.
However, I became rather more concerned on last Saturday evening, when I received an email from CPAC saying that one of their attendees was currently hospitalised and being treated for the coronavirus, having tested positive for the disease.
At this point, while I wasn’t showing all of the symptoms, I felt that being in potential contact with a confirmed case and showing a number of symptoms was enough to warrant calling 111, the NHS’s non-emergency number, and currently the place for Brits to report any suspected cases.
After informing the lady on the end of the line of my current situation, I was informed that yes, I had enough symptoms to warrant a test, and that I would get a call back within the next 24 hours from Public Health England, informing me of when and where the testing would happen – until then, I should put myself into self-isolation.
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I wasn’t surprised on Sunday that I did not receive a call back – having been treated by the NHS before, I know how clunky and slow their bureaucratic system could be, and I gave them a bit of leeway for it being a Sunday as well.
By Monday, I still had not heard anything, and given it was coming up to 48 hours since my initial call, I once again called 111. I informed the situation to the man on the other end of the line, who this time seemed a bit short with me, telling me that over the weekend, the number of cases had ballooned, and that there was some backlog. He told me that he didn’t need my details again, as they were already in the system, and I should expect a call imminently.
If I hadn’t heard back by Wednesday, he said, I should call them up again.
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At this time, the possibility of me actually being infected had shot up – Represenative Paul Gosar revealed he had been in contact with the confirmed case at CPAC on Thursday, and I had spent some time at events with Rep. Gosar just after this.
You can imagine what happened next. I heard nothing on Monday or Tuesday, and so once again called 111 on Wednesday, 4 days since my initial call. This time, my details were taken again, and I was told that I had been put into the queue again and should receive a speedy response.
Except now, the sheer volume of cases has pushed back the standard test wait time to between 48-72 hours.
I will therefore expect to hear back sometime this weekend – over a week since I was told I need to be tested for the coronavirus.
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What’s rather ironic is that now, my symptoms are starting to clear up. My cough has reduced from plaguing me every time I spoke, to more of a standard, tickly throat cough.
I would place good money on the fact that if I did have the coronavirus, it would have exited my body by the time I eventually get tested. I still question whether had it in the first place, but with the time between the potential exposure and my symptoms hitting their peak, I can’t be sure, and most likely will never know for certain.
How many cases in the UK are like mine?
With around 80% of people who have coronavirus only ever showing mild to moderate symptoms, how many more cases are there of people who didn’t get tested in time, and returned negative results despite actually having it?
The UK government and the NHS needs to pull their act together and start testing properly, before this gets even more serious.