What it's like to take the new rapid Covid test in Wolverhampton

What's it like to take the new rapid test? Our reporter James Vukmirovic found out.

Debbie Smith from Wolverhampton Council gives James Vukmirovic information about the lateral flow test
Debbie Smith from Wolverhampton Council gives James Vukmirovic information about the lateral flow test

The new pilot scheme for community testing promises a more efficient way of knowing if you have Covid or not.

Eye-watering it certainly is. But at least the results of your discomfort are known quickly.

The rapid Covid testing centre at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara on Sedgley Street in Wolverhampton officially opened to the public on Thursday, although it was a stuttering start.

The new site is set up for people who have no Covid symptoms and want to get a test - be it for peace of mind or because it is essential to their work, such as teachers or, in my case, Express & Star reporters.

I had been down at the Gurdwara to speak to people about the new site and decided to take the test, which is a lateral flow antigen test and gives results in around 30 minutes.

Full details of how the test are done are provided on entry to the site

A queue of only around 20 people came at the start, which was due to delays on Thursday that meant many were turned away earlier.

I was met by Debbie Smith from Wolverhampton Council, who was helping people to register for the lateral flow test on the Government website.

I was presented with the card, as well as a strip of barcodes, one of which goes on the card and the rest are kept for later and instructions for registering the barcode, as well as a handout for how to do the test.

Registration can be done through scanning a QR code or completing the full questionnaire online, which covers areas like personal data, contact details and what time you were taking the test.

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After completing the form (which, curiously, listed the location as GNSG – Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, Birmingham) I was led through to the entrance area of the outside hall to receive my swab.

The swab was given to me by Lynsey Kelly, Wolverhampton Council's head of communities, who is leading the testing and was helping out with instructions for the swab process.

After sanitising my hands, I was led into a booth, of which there are four and which has full instructions of how to complete the swabbing of throat and nose.

The first process was to put the tip of the swab against the back of the throat where my tonsils are and rub for 10 seconds.

Testing is done at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Sedgley Street

Without wishing to get too graphic, it was probably one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life, with my gag reflex constantly kicking in as I rubbed the swab.

By comparison, putting the swab up my nose for 15 seconds to twist it five times wasn't nearly as bad and I got through that with no issues.

After completing the process, I presented the technician behind the partition with a barcode and then placed my swab in the test tube provided, before leaving the Gurdwara area.

And that was it.

About 45 minutes after taking the test, I received a text message and an email to confirm I had tested negative. Simple.

There were a few teething problems with registering as not everyone had a smart phone to be able to do it quickly. It is an issue, especially with older people who aren't technically savvy.

But I found the experience to be simple and efficient. Staff were friendly and very happy to help and it was nice to get the results so quickly. For a few seconds of unpleasantness, the peace of mind was worth it.

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