Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

The car park at Brighton & Hove Albion footbal stadium has been turned into a drive through Covid-19 test centre.

How to take a Covid-19 test

HOT’s Erica Smith recently drove to Brighton and Hove Albion football ground in order to take a Covid-19 test. She thought it might be useful to others to share her experience.

I downloaded the COVID Symptom Study app early on in lockdown. It is not the ‘tracker’ that the government want us to use – it is a Kings College London study to see how the virus is spreading. You report each day – basically saying if you feel fine or not and sometimes answering a couple of additional questions.

On Tuesday 12 May I had a sore throat and felt really cold, so I reported my symptoms on the tracker. This might have been why I was invited for a test that week – but some users of the app have been invited when they have never reported symptoms. I was asked if I wanted a test (it wasn’t compulsory).

If you are a keyworker, you can get tested closer to home but I was offered a test spot over in Brighton or Gatwick. I chose to drive to Brighton where the football stadium car park at Falmer has been turned into a dystopian drive-through test centre. It felt a bit like being in Chernobyl after the nuclear disaster.

I was given some instructions via email – they said to bring hand sanitiser and tissues, and to print out and display a QR code on my closed car window.

It was very empty at the test centre. You drive into an open-ended marquee, get your QR code scanned by a person in a full protective suit who holds up a mobile phone number for you to call – I wasn’t asked to bring a mobile phone, but I had mine with me. You also have to show your driving licence or passport. I was then asked to wind down my window enough for a plastic bag containing the test and instructions to be passed through to me. Then I had to drive to the car park and reverse park into a socially distanced parking space. Here I sat and read the instructions and did the test.

The instructions said to use a mirror to locate your tonsils, and take out a swab which looked like a single-ended cotton bud with a very long handle. You have to stroke the sides of your throat around the tonsil area. And yes, it makes you gag. I had to use the rear view mirror in the car which was not very helpful – so if you are going for a Covid test, remember to take a small handmirror as well as your mobile phone.

After swabbing your throat, you then insert the same swab up each nostril about an inch/2.5cm and twist it around for a few seconds – it didn’t hurt. You then put the swab in a little test tube with a screwtop lid (you snap off the long handle so it fits in). You attach bar code stickers to the test tube and to the bag, seal it all up and hand it back to someone in full PPE on the way out of the test site.

I had my test at 6.30pm on Friday and the results came back on Sunday afternoon. I was negative for Covid-19 which didn’t surprise me.

I think if I had been worried about testing positive, I would have found the experience rather disturbing, so I hope reading about it in advance will put you at ease… if you are prepared for a dystopian experience it helps! Also, remember to take a mirror and your phone – and a print out of the QR code (or show it on your phone).

I also recommend watching a couple of YouTube video clips which demonstrate what you need to do. I wish I had watched them BEFORE I had the test rather than afterwards. I like this demonstration by Amir Khan – though miraculously he does NOT gag when he does the throat swab.

I would also recommend you to download the ‘Talk to Zoe’ app I’m using, which is run by Zoe Global Ltd. I think it’s a valuable study to be part of, and it won’t steal your civil liberties. Currently less than four  million people are signed up – the more people who use it, the more valuable a research tool it will be.

App store link for i-Phones
Googleplay for all other smart phones

I’d like to add a HUGE THANK YOU to all the staff running the test centres, and of course, healthworkers and careworkers across the country.


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Posted 19:44 Thursday, May 28, 2020 In: Covid-19

Also in: Covid-19

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