It’s early, it’s dark, it’s cold – I am definitely not an early bird and I don’t want to be part of the legendary “I just feel so much better when I am done with everything important in the morning” club. But, on this Wednesday morning, I have a mission, which makes it worth the effort: I’m getting tested for Covid-19. Nope, I don’t have any symptoms and I wasn’t in close contact with a positive tested person. The great thing about the CCS, the COVID Campus Screening, is that you can get tested anytime and for free and in most cases you’ll even get the result by the end of the same day!
I registered for the test here three days prior. It couldn’t be easier: You only need the same registration information you’re using for eCampus, firstname.lastname (or what’s in front of the @ in your university e-mail address) plus the password. After I’ve put in my information, I can choose where I want to take the test. Available are the North Campus and Mensa Italia, and it immediately shows me the free slots. Depending on capacities, it can be possible to even get a test appointment for the same day. Eagerly and lightheaded I’m scheduling my test for Wednesday at 8 am, so I have a “reason to get up early and be productive afterwards”. We’ll see about that.
Next, I’m getting a confirmation e-mail with a QR code, which will be scanned at the testing station. Now I just have to – just like any other day of the past 11 months – avoid every contact I can to minimize the chance of getting infected before the test, risking a false negative result. But if I’ve improved one thing in the last year, it’s definitely how I isolate myself.
Early in the morning the streets are still empty and calm, the sun is rising slowly. The bitterly cold air hits my face but only a couple of minutes later, my body seems to be waking up. It’s actually not that bad. 20 min later I am standing in line in front of the Mensa Italia, which has quickly been turned into a dystopian looking testing center. Another reason for the early appointment: I wanted to avoid long queues and being unnecessarily exposed to lots of people, but due to their great channeling system, it can be ensured that this won’t happen. Well, I could have slept longer I guess…
The smart setup of the testing centre makes it not only easy but also fast: Even though there are 10 people in line in front of me, it only takes me a couple of minutes to reach the “reception table”, where one of the friendly helpers welcomes me and hands me a welded test stick. When she asks me whether I am familiar with the process, I can’t help but shake my head nervously. My winter coat, hat and mask make it even warmer in here. “It’s actually pretty easy. You take the stick, put it under your tongue for 30 seconds and the helpers over there will let you know when you can take it out. Just be careful that it won’t touch your tongue or lips when you pull it out.” Okay, I’m putting the stick under my tongue and follow the instructions of the other nice helper (why is everyone so friendly that early in the morning?!), who is pointing at one of the two – how do you call this – testing stations (?), where I am now supposed to stand in line. In my head, I am still counting the seconds. While I’m still holding the stick in my mouth, I’m holding my phone with the QR code under the scanner; shortly after, the helpers and I are nodding to each other in silence. “30 seconds?” I’m signaling a “yes” with my eyes. They’re taking my test stick and showing me the way out. Okay, I didn’t think it would be THAT quick and easy. The entire process of standing in line, waiting and putting test stick in and out took only 5 mins (it can vary depending on the capacity, so no guarantee).
A weird feeling remains. The helpers are wearing body suits and of course safe masks and even though I’ve kind of gotten used to the sight, it still feels eery to find myself in such a dystopian atmosphere. The annoying sentence “If someone had told us that a year ago…” always comes to my mind again. Despite this enduring uneasiness, which I probably share with numerous people, knowing I can get tested on a regular basis calms me down immensely. Although it’s only representing one single moment (!) and doesn’t relief from safety measures (!!!), regular tests can prevent us from spreading the virus while being asymptomatically positive. In our small WG we’re always more than relieved when we get the negative result back, which usually arrives in the late afternoon of the same day. We’re not seeing anyone outside of our household, so this gives us a short feeling of security in our small little isolation bubble. Weekly COVID test it is!
The project was developed in cooperation with the Max Planck institute for experimental medicine and the Max Planck institute for dynamics and self-organization. It aims at preventing unnoticed infections with the virus and in order to self-isolate in case of an asymptomatic course of disease. If the test is positive, it’ll get retested at the laboratory of the Medical Microbiology of the UMG. If it’s indeed positive and not a false alarm, you and the health office will be notified immediately.
For me, there is no reason to not use this offer. From Monday to Tuesday, both testing stations have slots availabe from 8 -10:30 am, so you don’t even have to get there as early as me. But, and I have to admit that, it wasn’t so bad getting up early. Actually, I am now doing this every week at 8 am now to force myself to do an early morning walk. Killing two birds with one stone. I just felt so much better and was significantly more productive (damn it!).
For more information about the CSS and the registration click here.