Why do not I get a PCR test

The two dashes on the quick antigen test were all I needed. With classic COVID-19 symptoms – no taste, cough, fever and generally a feeling that I had been hit by a truck – I knew I had finally got the virus.

However, I have no intentions of joining the hundreds of thousands in queues for a PCR test, despite the fact that I have ticked all the boxes. I know I have COVID-19 because another positive fast test left me in no doubt.

People queue for COVID tests at a drive-through clinic in Rozelle.

People queue for COVID tests at a drive-through clinic in Rozelle. Credit:Jessica Hromas

Besides initially feeling too bad to consider running for hours, I was worried about possibly infecting healthy people only to know what I already know. Even under NSW Health’s updated advice on dealing with the virus at home, the healthcare system would still not be in touch with me.

And to put it bluntly, there are people who need more space in the queue than me.

When NSW’s Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said on Wednesday that “there is probably more disease in the community than the numbers reflect”, she would have in part referred to people like me. Those who want to do the right thing but cannot see the eternally serpentine lines in their eyes.

For two years we have been encouraged, sometimes asked, to be tested. As the number increased during various outbreaks, high test numbers have been seen as the key. And residents of NSW have duly followed the orders. Habits are hard to change and people have been programmed to be tested.

But the optics of testing lines that apparently never end or that people are rejected (as happened to us when we tried for two days to get my family tested as close contacts) hurt the government’s message that we must learn to live with viruses.

Now Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet wants people to listen to a new message: “PCR tests should be reserved for close contacts and those who feel uncomfortable – not healthy tourists looking forward to a well-deserved summer holiday”. The second part of his message referred to the ridiculous situation where NSW residents were forced to have PCR tests to enter other states, particularly Queensland.

Finally, and most importantly, Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk has bowed to pressure and will now accept negative rapid antigen tests to enter her state, albeit only on New Year’s Day.

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