WITH every swab of the throat and probe of the nostril, daily coronavirus testing has increasingly become the new – all be it slightly strange - ‘normal’.

For some key workers, it is now a potentially life-saving necessity, which has embedded itself into the routines of everyone from care home staff to hospital nurses.

Millions of others, however, (so far more than 17 million people have been tested) will, hopefully, only have to endure the uncomfortable examination on a single occasion.

Last week, I became one of the reported 175,000 people who are now taking a Covid-19 test every day, but not because I had displayed any of the virus symptoms.

It all started when I received a letter from Ipsos MORI, having been selected – supposedly at random - from the National Health Service’s vast database of patients.


The note detailed how the research company, and Imperial College London, were conducting a Covid-19 study on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care.

Before too long, I decided to register my interest and apply for a test, and within a couple of days, a coronavirus home kit had been popped through my letterbox.

Having read many column inches about the testing process, it would be a lie to say I was eager to take the test once I was actually confronted with it.

The suggested unpleasantness of the medical evaluation latched onto my thinking and clawed away at my bravery like a vicious cat splintering the back door.

But, despite my reservations, bottling it was never really an option.

After all, there are still thousands of people, every day, struggling to book a test, and even some of the successful applicants have been asked to travel miles away.

So, in the name of research, journalism, and entertaining a giggling girlfriend evilly excited to witness me wince, I struggled - ever so slightly - through the test.

For the most part, it is a relatively straight forward process and, in hindsight, far from complex, but there are moments – at least there was for me - of body-jolting unease.

Firstly, you carefully remove the lengthy swab from its packaging, before using it to simply stroke the very back of your throat and around both tonsils.

This, to my surprise, I found pretty unaffecting, but, I assume, this is dependent on the pharyngeal reflex of each individual.


The same end of the swab then has to be inserted roughly one inch high into each nostril, and twisted roughly five times, for at least ten seconds.

In comparison to the throat swab, this was far from enjoyable, and almost instantly turned my eyes into a pair of overflowing paddling pools.

The devilish probing stick is then put into a vial, and then a biohazard bag, before it is boxed up and placed in the fridge, where it safely stays until it is collected.

Once in the hands of the mask-wearing courier – who whizzed it to off to a lab - I felt a relief, and a degree of gladness that the test and I would, hopefully, never meet again.


It did, however, reaffirm my belief that its importance should not be underestimated, and helped to further elevate, in my mind, our brave key workers to the height at which they should be held.

Oh, and my result came back negative.