In July last year, I was tested for COVID-19 in Sydney.
I was tested again in December when I flew down to Victoria the same day the Northern Beaches blew up. I’d made the cut-off for quarantine and mandatory testing, but I figured I should get tested anyway, just in case I was patient zero and needed to get some professional headshots for the papers. Getting tested for COVID in Sydney and Melbourne were very different experiences. In Melbourne, for example, the testing went down in a laneway, and everyone sat on upturned milk crates and bitched about Sydney while they waited. Sydney was nothing like that. Here’s what happened.
The lady that tested me in Sydney was super-chill. ‘What’s up?’ she said when I entered the testing room, ‘have you been feeling crook or are you cool?’ I explained that I felt fine but had to get tested because my girlfriend went to a restaurant with some COVID on it. She frowned. ‘That’s not very lit,’ she said. She did the test on me and on the way out she gave me a fist-bump and said, ‘Peace.’ By comparison, the tester in Victoria had terror in her eyes, and when I told her I’d just arrived from Sydney she simultaneously gasped and farted.
The Actual Test
The test in Sydney was my first and I braced myself for what I had been led to believe would be a very unpleasant experience with a Q-tip fit for a bear. But it wasn’t bad at all. ‘That’s it?’ I said as the tester carefully deposited my snot in a vial, and she said, ‘Yup, you good, fool.’ In Victoria, the lady drove a 12-inch swab to the back of my head with a hammer and rooted my face back and forth for good measure. It was dehumanizing. I cried at the bottom of the shower afterwards.
Results Took 12 Hours Longer in Vic
Results for the NSW test came back twelve hours later in the form of a text message: ‘Congratulations, you do not have COVID-19. Have a sick (LOL) day.’ In Victoria, on the other hand, I was told I’d receive my results within the day because I’d come from dirty, infected Sydney. When I still hadn’t heard anything 36-hours later, I called the results hotline and keyed through the myriad options until I reached the final recorded message, which informed me that test results could take up to five business days… A couple of hours later, though, I received a text message: ‘COVID has not been detected at this time. Please piss off back to Sydney as soon as possible, you poser. Love, Daniel.’
In NSW, I did not receive a follow-up call, but I did receive one from Vic Health a week after my second test. It went like this:
‘Greetings, this is Becky from Vic Health. Where are you staying while visiting Victoria?’
‘Hi, Becky, I’m actually back in Sydney now. I got back a couple of days ago.’
‘You are no longer in The Garden State?’
‘No, I came home.’
‘Good. Now you are New South Wales’ problem, you vapid, uncultured philistine.’
And then she hung up.
*For any and all coronavirus questions or concerns, or to find your closest testing clinic, visit www.health.gov.au
Alternatively, you can call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080