Friday, 04 December 2020
Local Time In Israel Asia - Jerusalem

 

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3 coronavirus tests.

paul nirensBy Paul Nirens... made aliya from Melbourne Australia in 1984 and has lived in the North of Israel from that time. He is married and has 4 adult children and lives in the community neighbourhood of kibbutz Tuval. He is a trained chef and owns a culinary tourism enterprise, organizing cooking workshops and culinary tours in the Galilee.

By the time this corona pandemic is finished, I imagine that every single one of us will have had at least one test, but in all probability, a lot more than that.

I’m up to three so far and thankfully, all negative, even if at the time of the first one I had exactly the same symptoms as my wife, Susan, who tested positive. Go figure. I see 3 possible explanations for that:

1- That Susan’s cold symptoms, without fever or loss of smell or taste meant that they were just cold symptoms and she didn’t have Covid19 but received a false positive. She gets really angry with me when I suggest this. It’s as if I’m disparaging her badge of honour.

2- That my cold symptoms, without fever or loss of smell or taste, meant that I had Covid19 but received a false negative

3- I had it but was already past it by the time I got tested.

Whatever. I’ll never know.

I have already described the test experience so won’t go over it again, other than it was a time machine back to Israel of the ‘80s with a few modern test tubes.

The second test was taken at the same location as the first. That’s where the resemblance ended. If at the time of the first test there were 40 people jostling with all the decorum of a Delhi spice market, then 2 weeks later the place resembled a pork butchery in Me’a She’arim. Not a soul, other than me, a guard and the lab technicians in hazchem suits.

Test number three, I underwent so that I can escape the madness of Israel to the calm and sanity of the USA, at Nahariya Hospital. Ahhh. It was a quintessential Israel experience.

You start with the guard at the front gate, and whilst a long line of people produced certificates, permissions, 50 shekel notes and ID numbers in order to be allowed through the hallowed metal detector, Susan uttered the magic words “corona test before an overseas flight” and we were ushered through without any of the registration procedures. I honestly don’t know why this was the case, but as we walked down the corridor towards the hospital entrance we heard behind us people suddenly changing their minds, and the endoscopic procedure at 12.15 suddenly became a corona test.

We were instructed to go to the outpatients clinic, which seemed logical and upon finding the correct reception window (After wandering like lost sheep from the first window, which shunted us to the second which pointed to the third) sure enough, our names and ID numbers were in the system for the time we had arrived. The nurse printed a white sticker and pointed us to window number four in order to pay. Why we couldn’t pay the person who gave us the white sticker remains a mystery. Upon payment, the white sticker was taken from us and replaced with a yellow sticker. “Go now to the Emergency Ward, Basement Level to do your test” we were instructed. So the outpatients was just the accounts branch of the Emergency Ward. Got it.
After passing a small group of patients in hospital gowns, attached to intravenous drips and Marlboro cigarettes, we marched into the Emergency Ward, to window number five, with our little yellow stickers ready for use. The nice lady there said that we had to find the Emergency Ward Basement Level, out the left, around the corner and down the stairs. After a somewhat medical version of Alice Through The Looking Glass, we found the right place.

I don’t know if it’s just the hospitals in the North, or all hospitals in Israel, that have an entire medical centre in waiting, underground, in the event of a worst case scenario of a chemical warfare attack, or rocket attacks from our friends across the border, 7 km to the North. So here we were, continuing on with the said medical version of the Lewis Carroll novel, wandering an empty labyrinth in search of the person who would take our saliva. Sure enough, we eventually found the correct person, who was actually the only person other than ourselves in this entire basement hospital. She too was very nice, but seemed entirely oblivious to the surrealism of the situation, chatting about the coronavirus and overseas trips in surroundings that suited Sarejavo circa 1994. Emir Kusturica was about to shout “cut” at any moment.

After gagging on the long cotton bud, which was then shoved up my nose with ruthless efficiency, we’d finished. 5 hours later the negative results came, in Hebrew, of course, even though the test was specifically defined for those travelling overseas. We need them in English for Logan Airport. Getting the results in the correct language will be tomorrow’s struggle.

 

The opinions and views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the Anglo-List.