"Crikey they get around," one person says.
"Whoa, I haven’t been to that many places in the last 12 months..." another follows.
"Seriously. Do people walk out of hotel quarantine and go 'Yay I’m free, let’s see just how many public venues I can visit in the coming days?'" a third chimes.
These are the polite comments that inevitably pop up every time there is an alert for a COVID case in an area. I will be honest, before I was caught up in a track and trace situation, I had been joking with friends that "I simply didn’t have the lifestyle to catch COVID." I hadn’t been anywhere apart from work, home and grocery shopping in months. Well. At least that was how it felt.
When I got a message from NSW Health at 8pm on New Year’s Eve it stopped me in my tracks. The message read:
"This is a message from NSW Health. A person who attended place X on 19/12/2020 has tested positive for COVID-19 and you may have been exposed. Please get tested immediately and self-isolate until further instruction from NSW Health. … You must remain isolate until NSW Health contacts you, even if your test is negative…"
Just a quick thank you to masks... Post continues below.
This threw into chaos our New Year’s Eve plans. We had friends over for dinner (within the guidelines) and were about to sit down to eat as the messages pinged on our phones. We quickly packed up dinner for our friends to take with them and two families headed off to the local testing place that was open until 10pm that night. They went to their home and we went to ours to eat our dinner and celebrate the end of 2020 alone.
Over the next couple of days I had little else to do while waiting for the test results to come back and to be released from isolation, so I spent the time wisely, compiling a list of where I had been just in case. I genuinely thought it would be a very short list. I have no social life and well I don’t go anywhere except work so it couldn’t be anymore than maybe two places per day. Less even.
The problem with this maths is that by the time we were contacted, it was 10 days after our exposure. Even by my conservative count of two places per day, I was up to 20. I had no real way of checking all the places I had checked into because even though I use the Service NSW app everywhere I go (cafes, restaurants) places like shopping centres were optional. Had I checked in every time? Or had I become lazy?