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Australia Inside a coronavirus testing centre, kind and cheerful medical staff are on the frontline

05:32  19 march  2020
05:32  19 march  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Shout out to all the nurses, doctors, administrators, cleaners, and even traffic controllers at the Royal Melbourne Hospital who are doing God's work.

The photo at the top of the story is me at 11:30am on Tuesday.

I had developed a sudden (but mild) fever, body aches and sore throat on Monday, so I went home.

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I had been in Japan recently so I had a suspicion I'd need to be tested. I did.

In fact, I was deemed "high risk", which was wild, because I felt just garden-variety sick.

Like nothing that a good lie down couldn't fix.

I'd had hangovers worse than this.

Joanna was concerned about spreading coronavirus after returning to Australia from Japan. (ABC News: Supplied Joanna Cooney) © Provided by ABC NEWS Joanna was concerned about spreading coronavirus after returning to Australia from Japan. (ABC News: Supplied Joanna Cooney) But I also know that this is the kind of virus that might be a minor inconvenience to me, but deadly to so many others. So I got tested.

I gotta tell you, they're so efficient there. I found the queue. Sanitised my hands. Did the online form.

After a few questions, I got this:

Before I could finish the next part, not 10 minutes after arriving, my name was called and they whisked me through.

I had a bunch of tests — temperature, blood pressure, questions.

But I also got a lot of calm and patient answers. Everyone there was so kind and in good spirits.

A lot of people had to be turned away, even those who were clearly far sicker than me.

One guy was stoked ("Bloody beaut!"), another was so very vexed.

He had a high temperature, which is awful enough.

His English was limited and he just wanted reassurance.

The nurses were kind and firm in telling him he didn't meet the criteria.

There are so few tests at the moment and I felt pretty guilty about taking that space in the queue.

In fact, everything is limited. I couldn't even take an extra face mask.

I was there for less than an hour all up. And everyone there was so great. They were kind, cheerful, efficient and gave me lots of answers about what I needed to do.

The test is awful (I needed a vomit bag — details on request) but necessary.

I was reassured that I was right to get tested, but also that I probably hadn't spread it too far.

Everyone working there is a saint and deserves a non-contact hug from a safe distance.

I was emailed a fact sheet on how to isolate, a certificate for work, and info on how to avoid spreading the virus.

Obviously I had to isolate, which messed with my head.

Instructions were to stick to my room as much as possible, wipe down everything I'd touched, and wear a mask when "near" (but never actually be near) my flatmates.

This is how we hung out.

I'm an anxious extrovert so I actually really needed that human interaction to save myself from my own thoughts ("Who did I infect? Who did I kill? Who will lose their job? Will I lose my job? Are my grandparents OK? Are you OK? WTF is happening?").

So thanks, flatmates, for being legends.

At 8:00am on Wednesday — less than 24 hours later — I got this text, just as I was succumbing to a full-blown panic spiral.

It immediately lifted. The mind is a funny place. I was barely in isolation.

So, what to take from this?

Trust our healthcare professionals. They know what they're doing, and they're doing the best they can. I felt so safe and assured in their hands.

Support your community. Isolation gets lonely and you can feel pretty useless.

I didn't get a real chance to settle into it, but my brain was really catastrophising.

Distract your isolated friends — anticipate they'll need food and shopping (and coffee!), but also perhaps see if there's anything they can do to feel like they're a useful part of society.

I am lucky that I can work from home and have great flatmates and a boyfriend who supported me during this really brief time, but not everyone has this.

If you think you have to get tested, go and ask. They'll quickly let you know either way.

Share. Your. Essential. Items.

Wash your hands, and do not be a bloody hoarder.

Full coverage: Read more on coronavirus from Microsoft News
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More info: Read the latest advice on COVID-19 from the Australian Government
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Leading lung expert John F. Murray dies of same condition he spent years treating after being infected with coronavirus .
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