New and previously daunting experiences are now commonplace. I joined the many thousands in our area who’ve had a test during this pandemic as I went for my first coronavirus test at the Honiton Park and Ride site last week.
I decided to book my test after experiencing some common coronavirus symptoms, including a high temperature. As you’d expect, I hear about the testing process locally almost every day. Around 6,000 East Devon residents get a test every week and this figure has never been higher.
Plenty of testing slots were available and I found it was a simple, smooth and stress-free experience. I drove home and thought about what I needed to sort in order to self-isolate if I tested positive.
I’ve never done a food shop online and found every delivery slot taken over the next three weeks from the major supermarkets. Some of our local farm shops did have more availability. If you have a slot and can get to the shop, please do consider whether it might be better used by someone self-isolating or clinically vulnerable. Thankfully, there are community groups offering support and I have friends nearby who’d help out too. If you need to find out about community support where you live, I’ve published a page on my website with details of volunteer groups across East Devon. It really demonstrates the incredible community spirit we have in our towns and villages.
My test result came through within 48 hours and was negative. However, I still felt pretty rough and continued to work from my kitchen in Sidmouth. I was impressed with the testing process from filling out the online form to arriving at the site and later receiving my result. It’s remarkable that less than a year ago, none of this existed.
Sometimes people tell me they won’t go for a test because they don’t want to self-isolate: What will my employer say? Will I even get paid for the time I’m off? My contract doesn’t pay sick leave at my going rate?
No one should be penalised for doing the right thing. An employer can pay Statutory Sick Pay to an employee who is off work self-isolating due to coronavirus, provided that they are off for at least four days in a row. The introduction of the £500 support payment is a further helping hand for people on low incomes who are unable to work from home while self-isolating. And furlough is flexible – your employer might agree to furlough you if told to shield or self-isolate and you cannot continue work from home.
Please get a test if you have symptoms. It may seem daunting. But it could protect someone more vulnerable than you by breaking the chain of transmission.
This column first appeared in the Exmouth Journal on Wednesday 20th January 2021.