S M Ong: Because I visited Jem, I went for my first Covid-19 swab test
Dear Ministry of Health (MOH),
I thought I could get away with it.
The pandemic had been going on for more than a year, and I had managed not to get swabbed for a Covid-19 test. No sticks up my nose, thank you very much.
And then Jem happened.
All I wanted was some bananas and bacon bits.
That was why I was at the FairPrice Xtra hypermarket in the Jurong East mall that day.
So on May 18, when I read that you were "encouraging" those who visited Jem or Westgate shopping malls between May 10 to 14 to go for a free swab test, I knew. I just knew.
I reviewed my TraceTogether history. Yup, I checked in at Jem on May 12. My nose can kiss its virginity goodbye.
On your website, you provided a list of options for the swab test, including "walk in to Raffles Medical at Shaw Centre Orchard".
But on May 19, when I attempted to walk in to Raffles Medical at Shaw Centre Orchard, there was a queue extending dangerously into the multi-storey carpark.
I was willing to wait, but then I was told that only those who received an SMS from you could take the test that day. That was not mentioned on your website.
Since I did not get any SMS, I had to go back the next day.
So I had gone all the way there for nothing.
Not cool, MOH. This was what I got for trying to be a good citizen?
I was so annoyed at you that I decided to skip the swab test altogether. I was fully vaccinated anyway.
A few days later, Jem and Westgate were forced to shut for two weeks as the cluster grew and grew. It was alarming enough that I reconsidered getting the stick up my nose.
NOT THE BEST IDEA
So last Tuesday, after getting turned away at a couple of clinics near my home because I did not book beforehand, I finally ended up at Keat Hong Family Medicine Clinic where I was told I had to wait about 45 minutes for the test. No problem!
At least I was not queueing in a multi-storey carpark at the risk of getting knocked down by oncoming vehicles.
All this for some bananas and bacon bits.
Damn you, alliterative grocery items.
After everything I went through, I wanted something to commemorate my hard-to-get first Covid-19 swab test.
So as I sat down for the swab, I set my phone to video mode and placed it discreetly on my lap to record the stick going up my nose.
I guess I was not discreet enough because the nurse said: "No filming."
I thought I could get away with it.
As I fumbled with my phone, trying to switch it to photo mode, she said: "Please keep your phone in your pocket."
She had to swab God knows how many people a day and did not need to deal with idiots like me as well.
Then I realised it might not have been the best idea in the world to antagonise someone who was about to insert a stick up my nose.
It was my first time. Please be gentle.
With my head tilted back, she went disconcertingly deep into both my nostrils. It tickled a bit but was not painful.
And thus my nose cherry was popped. I survived my first Covid-19 swab test and did not even have a selfie to show for it.
The good news is I got my test result the next day - negative. I would not be adding to the Jem-Westgate cluster.
Ironically, that was also the same day I received an SMS from you "encouraging" me to go for a free swab test. Where was this SMS when I needed it? You were about a week late.
The information on your website has since been updated - no more walk-ins, it seems.
I just wish you had planned this whole testing thing better from the start.
Also, can you please, please, please allow selfies during the swab test?
You know, for the Gram.