The Covid-19 Test Problems in the South West Saga

For those who are not aware there’s been a problem with the tests that determine whether you have Covid-19 or not here in the South West of England. Advice has changed as things have gone along but really advice was if you have symptoms then stay at home. It wasn’t clear what to do if you were fine though. Carry on as normal really. Here is what happened with our teen.

The Positive Lateral Flow Test

The Covid-19 Test saga really began on Friday 8th October 2021. This was the night before our 18 year old was taking our 14 year old to London. There was a gaming convention at the Excel. Adults had to provide proof of a negative lateral flow unless they were double vaccinated. It just made sense for the 14 year old to do one too.

positive lateral flow test

Of course it came back positive. Note that this trip was a present from the 18 year old. He had recently started working and had paid for everything – from the entry tickets, the coach and even been out and bought food for the day.

Letting a 14 year old travel to and across London with just his older brother was a big deal to us. There was no way we could risk him having Covid too. Another lateral flow was taken and again it came up positive straight away. A thick line at that.

His dad thought it unusual how quickly the result came up. But then the 14 year old told us that he did have a headache and a sore throat. He did feel warmer than usual, but not alarmingly so. It actually turns out that we do not own a working thermometer so don’t know what it was. They were new tests so we wondered if it was this. But then the rest of us took them and were all negative.

The PCR Test

A PCR test was booked for the very next day (Saturday) and the 18 year old set off alone. In fact it was when he was about to board the coach to return back that the 14 year old’s PCR result came back as negative. I had also missed going to a Wedding Reception and the youngest staying out over at his Great Nan’s house.

The Vaccination

There were rumours about that the tests weren’t accurate. That there were problems in the South West. By now the 14 year old was absolutely fine apart from maybe feeling slightly warmer than usual in my opinion. His dad thought he felt normal.

I was worried about whether the result was wrong. The problem was his vaccination was on the Tuesday. There was just no advice really for those without any symptoms. After talking to lots of people we decided to get him to do another lateral flow on the Sunday.

Again his dad thought this was pointless as it would just be positive, as it wasn’t long since the others he did came up quickly. They were negative. That and the negative PCR reassured us enough to let him return to school on the Monday. This was also the day of a school trip.

However, I was still concerned about his vaccination. He was getting his first shot of Pfizer. Something he shouldn’t do if he was positive. Both himself and his dad really wanted him vaccinated though. In the end I decided that it was up to him and just talked him through my thoughts and fears.

On the day I suggested he let the person doing the vaccines know what had gone on. He told me that I had done that but they didn’t seem interested. He was vaccinated.

School Policy Change on Covid-19

Two days later on the Thursday the school sent out a change in advice. They now wanted people to self-isolate based on positive lateral flows regardless of a PCR outcome. That they wanted everyone to test that night and go from there. Again his test was negative.

Covid-19 Test Lab in Wolverhampton

The news came about that about 43,000 people in England and Wales may have been wrongly told their Covid-19 was negative because of errors at a private laboratory in Wolverhampton. At this point we felt sure that our son was fine. He had no symptoms and now many negative lateral flow tests.

Some of the parents from school automatically booked in for a new PCR test but I felt that many more people would need them as a priority so didn’t. But then on Saturday afternoon I received the text inviting him to be retested. That he should self-isolate if he had symptoms.

The Second PCR

The earliest we could get a PCR then was the Sunday. This meant missing the Half Marathon in Birmingham. It was quite straight forward but I had to take him as my husband had hurt his ankle at Parkrun. The hardest bit was driving whilst wearing a mask (and glasses).

I asked whether this now meant he was now meant to self-isolate but was just told to look at the website for advice. There was no advice for his situation but I was told by a nurse that yes he did (I mean it is what I assumed).

The Positive PCR

We made the decision that he would not be going to school on the Monday. If he had isolated from that first positive lateral flow Monday would have been the last day. It made sense whilst they were not being accurate for him to miss that one day. Besides there was online learning provided.

drive thru pcr test for covid-19 in the south west of England

I had let the school know the night before, fully expecting to have a negative PCR result before school even started. In fact it wasn’t until after lunch that the positive result text message came in. This said to isolate for 10 days after the date of the first test.

Test and Trace

But then at 13:50 Test and Trace called. To be honest I have never experienced something so uncomplicated be so complicated. First he had a problem with the fact that our son did not have symptoms between the dates he had (9th-18th October). He went off and spoke to his manager.

Then he was saying that our 18 year old had to self-isolate – even though he was born after April 2003 (and I had given him his date of birth). He wanted to know where our 14 year old had been and who with, except for when I felt it mattered. For example he had been in close contact with his eldest brother but Test and Trace didn’t seem to want his details. This means he couldn’t book a PCR.

Trip to Kaspas ice-cream parlour for world mental health day

Family PCR

So now everyone else in the family is exempt from self-isolation due to either our ages or vaccination statuses. However, we do all need to get PCR tests done. Our local mobile one wasn’t available. Our 18 year old had already missed a shift at work (he is on lates this week), and obviously my husband is at work and the tween at school. It just made sense for us to have the home kits sent out.

So that is where we are at. No-one is ill; one has to stay home until Friday and the rest need testing. The 14 year old has even taken a lateral flow today and it is still negative! Fingers crossed the family PCRs are all negative now.

5 thoughts on “The Covid-19 Test Problems in the South West Saga”

  1. What a palava, My niece was in a similar situation (Stroud) she was quite ill for 3 days but went back to school on day 5 as the pcr had been negative. We are certain she had it.


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