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My Coronavirus Test Experience

In today’s blog, I would be sharing my personal experience of going through Coronavirus test in Pakistan. Now since numbers of cases are on the rise, more people are searching for the right answer to their questions of, how to get Coronavirus test in Pakistan, and more importantly, how much corona test costs.

On February 26, 2020, the first two cases of coronavirus surfaced in Pakistan. Ever since, Government, print and electronic media have been doing their best to spread awareness about how this virus spreads, what are the symptoms, how one can prevent him/herself from getting infected, what should one do when one develops the symptoms and how to get Coronavirus test in Pakistan.

In the beginning, Govt. of Pakistan as well as WHO recommended that people will only be tested, if they present more than one symptom. Therefore, a lot of people who ran towards testing facilities in panic, were denied the test after detailed examination/interview by an expert doctor. Later on, as our testing capacity expanded, tight criteria was slightly relaxed and more people with minor symptoms also started getting their tests done.

On 3rd day of Eid, one of my friends got fever and sore throat, which he initially associated with drinking cold drink. As most of us would do, he went on to visit his family doctor, who prescribed Paracetamol along with some antibiotics. After taking these medicines for a couple of days, his fever and sore throat gradually reduced but according to him a mild feeling of tiredness prevailed. The symptoms explained above were not sever enough that one would consider opting for a Coronavirus test.

It was the evening of 3rd June 2020, when both of us were standing in the street and one of the confirmed Coronavirus survivors was passing by. We stopped him and started asking about his experience of going through this disease. He explained that, he got very high fever along with severe body pains that he was unable to move and even go to washroom. Since, he was one of those people who never believed that Coronavirus actually exists, so he relied on normal medication and never thought of visiting a testing facility to get himself tested. On 4th day of his symptoms, he got diarrhea which was followed by severe cough on the 7th day. He finally went for his test on the 10th day and got positive result.

Throughout these 10 days, he had not isolated himself and entire family (including kids) were visiting his room and had been giving body massage to bring some relief to his aching body. Due to this non-isolation, entire family got infected but children shown no symptoms, however, only his wife got severely affected. Her symptoms were more severe than him, but thankfully entire family managed to get over this tragedy and eventually all of them got negative. The important point to note is that, despite all family was infected, but they remained in their house and nobody taken them to some quarantine facility. Nonetheless, they were in contact with District Health Office, who gave them emergency numbers to contact in case they develop some emergency conditions.

Two symptoms which immediately attracted my friend’s attention were (1) body aching/tiredness (2) skin sensitivity/pain. My friend was also experiencing these mild symptoms, so he decided to get himself tested for Coronavirus. On 4th June 2020, he finally visited PIMS and gave the sample.

Since, I was in regular contact with my friend, and despite that we always met following SOPs of social distancing (no handshake, no hugging, sitting 5-6 ft apart), there was still a chance, that I might be exposed to infection, because since Eid, I had taken tea from his house twice. Therefore, despite that I had no symptoms, I immediately isolated myself and quarantined in my room until the test is done and result is received.

I decided to go for Coronavirus test. Interestingly, whoever I have discussed this idea with, didn’t support my intention because of the fear based around various conspiracies spreading on social media these days. The fear in general public is that Government is trying to intentionally increase the numbers of coronavirus patients to gain international financial support, so even if, one is not infected, and give his coronavirus test in Pakistan, he would still get a positive report. Secondly, people are also terrified that doctors are killing them with poisonous injections to raise the mortality ratio.

I never believed on such conspiracies and have been advocating on all of my social media spaces, that Coronavirus is real and Government (not only Pakistan but all Govts around the world) are trying their best to save their people from this dread disease. Therefore, I decided to go for the test and set an example for others who are even slightly influenced by my words or actions. I also wanted to set an example for my relatives, friends and social media followers that it is absolutely safe to get coronavirus test in Pakistan. It is actually a responsible act not to be a reason of spreading this virus to other family members. 

My company has made arrangements with one of the renowned private labs “Chughtai Lab” for testing of our entire members of the Group across Pakistan on subsidized rates. I also approached our HR team in Islamabad to help me to get appointment for the test. Mr. Saad, who is very energetic, supportive and efficient member of our HR team, managed the appointment in no time, and in less than half an hour, I got the call from Chughtai Lab to come for test at 8:15pm. I was asked to come in car so that my sample could be taken in drive-thru.

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At sharp 8:15, I was there at the drive-thru. It was overall a hassle-free experience and all they needed was to show my CNIC for formal registration. 5 minutes later, a guy in full PPE suit appeared along with the testing kit.

He explained that, he would be inserting a swab into my right nostril. The swab would go inside as far as it could go, then they would turn it three-four times, and pull it out. The swabbing process was quick and painless but quite irritating though. I mostly felt a tickling sensation inside my nose. I got a sneeze after this test, so it might be a good idea to have some extra tissue on hand just in case you sneeze, too. Once my nose had been swabbed, I drove back home and was anxiously waiting for my result, though was hoping to get a negative one.

At start, reporting time of coronavirus test in Pakistan was 24 hours but as the number of cases increasing, more and more people showing up for the tests, so in Government facilities, this time has now gone upto 72-96 hours, whereas, private labs still giving their results in about 48 hours.

I received my result after almost 40 hours, and thankfully, I tested Negative for COVID-19. Now it’s your turn — please go get your test done.

I posted my whole experience of going through coronavirus test experience on Instagram and Facebook and received a very positive response. Many people were enquiring further details through direct messages on messenger and WhatsApp. Most of them were trying to clarify their confusions and doubts.

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People first ask how much it costs, to which I respond that the test is completely free if taken in the Government Hospital but one has to pay if opts to go in private labs. The charges of coronavirus test in Pakistan in private labs also differ, since NGOs run Laboratories are doing it on no-profit no-loss basis and only charging Rs.3000, whereas, renowned private laboratories are charging in the range of Rs. 8000.

Remember, people can be infected with the virus but showing absolutely no symptoms. Though self-isolation and quarantine is still the best choice, but if there is a feeling of insecurity and confusion, like I had, knowing whether or not you have COVID-19 is one thing you can pursue to get to know for certain.

Coronavirus is a reality so it is suggested to take all necessary precautions that are being widely communicated in media to avoid going through confusion, fear or anxiety, that you would go through, if you start some symptom.

Stay safe and remember that it is only matter of putting your mask on and sanitizing or washing your hands regularly.

About the author

Zahid Malik