25 hours in isolation

When I last wrote about COVID-19, it was just before we went into Level 4 restrictions in Melbourne.

Level 4 has been harder. While I’m not affected in a financial sense, the further closure of businesses is causing stress for people.

There are now severe limits on leaving the house: once per day per household for shopping, and once per day per person for exercise, for an hour.

My old pattern of multiple walks to break up the day isn’t permitted, so I have adjusted to one hour long walk per day for exercise. This is a little easier in the afternoon after work now the days are getting longer – but harder when there’s rain about.

On some days if I need to buy something, a separate walk for shopping supplements the exercise walk – but that’s obviously limited to how far I need to go to reach what I need.

Would you get caught if you walked longer than you were meant to? Almost certainly not. But the limits are to reduce risk of transmission, and we all want to do the right thing.

And it’s encouraging to see it’s working – from a height of almost 700 new cases per day, the 7-day average is down to around 200 now, and dropping – though the continuing death rate of around 10-20 per day is horrible.

Source: OurWorldInData

When wearing the mask, particularly on the long walks, I sometimes feel my nose getting runny. This is not new for me, it’s been occasionally runny for months, so I wasn’t concerned.

But on Sunday I noticed my throat was itchy, veering on sore.

Bearing in mind the repeated calls to get tested if you have symptoms, I decided to do so.

Getting tested

There are many testing sites, but for me the drive through site at MSAC seemed easiest, especially as I’d heard it was quick.

Entering the test site, there were only a couple of cars ahead of me. The staff asked my symptoms, asked me to hold up ID, and took my details. (“Oh, congratulations on your birthday this week.” “Yeah, I’m not having a big party!”)

Then you do a long loop around to the actual test area – obviously it’s designed to cater for a queue of cars, which can quickly take up a lot of space. A queue of just ten people in their cars would feel like a major traffic jam.

Signs remind you to turn your engine off when waiting in the vicinity of the staff. Perhaps less of an issue for the Prius that was in front of me.

There are also signs reminding you to be respectful of staff, and that abuse won’t be tolerated. It’s a little disappointing that they feel the need to say this.

The test itself is a swab into the mouth, then into each nostril. The latter didn’t hurt, but it does go a long way up, and is uncomfortable enough for a few seconds that I felt my eyes start to water.

Including queuing it was all done within 15 minutes. Obviously it’s all designed to be as easy as possible, and it was.

Sparkling isolation

They told me to self-isolate until the results were back – assume I was positive unless told otherwise.

Isolation is easier for me now that I live alone. They told me notification could take up to three days, but would probably a lot less, and would either be a text message for Negative, or a phone call for Positive.

Staying a home for a day or two would be a lot more difficult if I didn’t have my own (small) courtyard to run around in. That afternoon I literally did that – running on the spot, walking briskly up and down, star jumps.

Despite my usual disorganisation and lack of forward planning, I had enough groceries to tide me over, making staying at home not too onerous – though I could have done without the siren song the following afternoon of an ice cream van rolling down my street.

Other than the sore throat, I felt fine. But it’s a bit stressful.

As every hour went by, I glanced at my phone more often, to see if I’d missed a call or a text.

And then just over 24 hours after the test, the result came through. By text.

Your COVID-19 test result for the sample collected on 23/08/2020 is NEGATIVE.
Please consult your doctor for interpretation and advice in your particular circumstances.
If you are in isolation, this result does not necessarily mean these measures can be ceased.
This message is from Dorevitch Pathology.


Stay safe and well everyone.

And if you have symptoms, get tested.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

4 replies on “25 hours in isolation”

Excellent result. I’m dreading getting a sore throat, which hasn’t happened yet.
Good on you for obeying the rules.

Hay fever season for me is just beginning, so I’ve been sneezing more and occasionally have a runny nose. It might be a hard call if the season is a bad one and the symptoms worsen, as they often do.

@Paul, yes, it may be an interesting few months as hayfever symptoms overlap with COVID symptoms. They might need to be a bit more nuanced with the guidelines.

One of the primary COVID symptoms is a cough – just says “coughing” but the WHO says a “dry cough”.

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