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Self-Isolate Before It’s Too Iso-Late

, , , , | Healthy | April 8, 2020

This call takes place in mid-February 2020, just as the panic is starting but before any of the major lockdowns in Australia. My hospital has just opened up a testing clinic but is only accepting patients who meet certain criteria. I’m a switchboard operator, and we’re not medically trained and are not meant to give advice, but in this strange new world we’re in we are finding ourselves having to triage callers to help lighten the load.

Caller: “I heard you guys are testing for that Corona? Where do I go?”

Me: “Okay, first, I just need to check that you meet the criteria to be tested. Are you currently experiencing flu-like symptoms?”

Caller: “Yes, my husband and I have a fever and sore throat.”

Me: “Okay, and have you been overseas in the last fourteen days?”

Caller: “Yes, we just got back from Italy two days ago.”

Me: “Okay. It sounds like you do meet the criteria to be tested.”

I give specific instructions for how to access the clinic using a special entrance.

Caller: “Okay, thanks. We’ll come in soon. Oh, also, my aunty is admitted there with you guys at the moment. Might as well kill two birds with one stone and visit her while we’re there!”

Me: “Umm, no, please don’t do that.”

Caller: “Huh? Why not?”

Me: “Uh… They ask you to self-isolate if you believe you have it. I would not recommend visiting an inpatient.”

Caller: “What? Oh, yeah, I guess that makes sense. Okay, we won’t visit her, then. Thank you, bye!”

This is why it’s spreading!

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