Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Borders are opening, and people are making plans to spend time with their loved ones after many months –  in some cases, even years – apart, as a result of COVID-19. And what could be better than celebrating Christmas together once again? But first, it’s definitely a good idea to invest in a lateral flow rapid test to ensure that you attend that festive, and potentially rather big, family gathering completely virus-free.

Kit for delivery

For families celebrating within the United Kingdom, it is possible to order a lateral flow rapid test kit for delivery to wherever you may be staying, which should be taken within zero to two days of arrival in the country. Once the test has been completed, it is important to photograph the results and submit them online – which can be done anywhere from 15 minutes afterward; but ideally should be done 25 to 30 minutes after collecting the nasal sample. Any longer and your test result could read a false positive. Be sure to download the test-related app (mentioned in the accompanying test instructions) onto your smartphone; internet connectivity and your smartphone camera are essentials for you to be able to submit your test. The good news? Your results will be available within a nifty 60 minutes!

Testing times

For people who get an invitation to stay with friends that comes together with the requirement of a COVID-19 test directly after the flight, it’s important to note what assistant professor of adult and pediatric infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Jill Weatherhead, has to say on “You don’t get sneezed or coughed or breathed on by an infectious person and then instantly register a red alert on a COVID-19 test. If you’re exposed to someone who’s infectious, and you do pick up sufficient viral particles to develop a breakthrough infection, it would take three to five days before your personal viral load would be high enough to register positive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So I would tell your friends, ‘I’m going to follow the CDC guidelines because being tested after a flight isn’t going to answer the question you’re trying to answer: Did I pick up a breakthrough infection during my travels?’ A better bet, then,” she adds, “would be to stay away from their home (i.e., in a hotel) for three days or so and then take the COVID-19 test before going to stay with them.”

Getting the swab done well

While the steps involved in your lateral flow rapid test are not too complicated, to ensure it’s done right, a competent adult should ideally carry out your test for you – particularly if you are under the age of 18.

Start by placing the buffer tube into the hole on the top of the box before removing the swab from the packaging – without touching the cotton end. Next, insert the cotton end of the swab gently into one nostril about 2.5cm in until there’s some resistance; then rotate the swab up to five times while brushing against the sides of the nostril as you rotate. The same should be repeated in the other nostril. In order not to contaminate the swab, be sure to remove any nasal piercings before you begin.

Phew, that over and done with, it’s time to insert the swab into the buffer tube and swirl for 30 seconds before squeezing the sides of the tube and rotating, once again, at least five times. It is best to keep on squeezing the tube while you remove the swab from the buffer tube, then attach the dropper tip firmly. The test cassette comes next: remove this from its sealed pouch and position it on a flat surface before depositing four drops from the buffer tube vertically into the sample well, generally marked “s.” Remember to dump the buffer tube and swab into the waste, pronto. As mentioned above, you should photograph your cassette and identification document after 25 to 30 minutes and submit it via the app on your smartphone; it may also be possible to submit the test by scanning the QR code on your test kit and making use of the download website. Sixty minutes later, and Bob’s your uncle – these test results will appear in your email inbox.

Modus operandi for the innocent

It is not advisable to continue with a child’s test if they are uncomfortable. As regards young children and people with disabilities, distraction is the best way to proceed. Then quickly insert the swab into the nostril until you start to feel resistance – but take care not to exert undue force, and rotate for 15 seconds before doing the same in the other nostril. If the child becomes distressed, rather go the route of simply inserting the tip of the swab into each nostril and wiping around the inside of the nose instead of going any deeper.

Making a list, checking it twice

Last year in December 2020, @scarcurtis posted a Lockdown Christmas print on Instagram showing everything we had probably – by that stage – got used to: from Zoom flirting and supporting small online businesses rather than shopping at big department stores, to staying home, waving at loved ones through windows (hopefully while they were wearing their glasses?), doing Facetime with grandparents (many of whom don’t hear too well, the joys) and, for the first time all year not, in fact, working from home.

With the improved availability of test kits and the increase in vaccinated individuals, 2021’s festive season is going to be so much better. How’s that for positive thinking? So best you start drawing up the menu and ordering the items well ahead of time that you can freeze or keep. Think of sitting down – with all your loved ones present – to a groaning table of roast turkey with stuffing, roast potatoes, rich gravy, cranberry sauce (from Harrods, of course), and the homemade vegetables you love the most; not forgetting a Christmas pud or three and a platter of mince pies. And don’t forget the French bubbly.

A last note: be sure to brush up on a couple of amazing and lovable dinner-table jokes that celebrate the pandemic we’ve successfully lived through and the New Year, 2022, which lies ahead.The famous Tennyson quote comes to mind: Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “It will be happier.”

Season’s greetings.