What its really like to be isolated with kids waiting for coronavirus test results

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

You always think it's going to happen to someone else, don't you? As coronavirus has hit our nation, we've all been reassured that we are probably fine, and although we need to do what we can to stay safe, there's no need to panic. 

At time of writing, there are only 368 confirmed cases in Australia. What are the odds that my kids could be next?

Well, it turns out that odds don't mean a thing. Someone will be next, and there's no reason it shouldn't be my family.

We are currently waiting for test results that will tell us whether coronavirus has hit our home. My children are holed up at their dad's house, where they await test results. When my seven-year-old daughter displayed signs of a cold over the past few days, I thought nothing of it. 

I googled, of course, but her symptoms didn't seem overly corona-ish, so I didn't worry too much. But now my nine-year-old son has a cough, and their dad – my ex-husband – is a bit under the weather too. 

All of which would be fine if one of my ex-husband's colleagues hadn't just tested positive for COVID-19.

So the three of them went to the doctor yesterday. The doctor said the children were classed as "low-risk" because they haven't come into contact with a known coronavirus sufferer, so they weren't tested. But their dad has, so he was tested, and now we wait the one to two days it takes for the results to come back.

If my ex-husband tests positive, then our children will be tested too. Beyond that, I can't fathom how far that ripple effect will travel.

As we wait for the results, I'm thinking about all of the people we've come into contact with over the past 10 days or so. The incubation period apparently averages out at about five days, and my daughter has had a cold for about half a week. I've mostly been working from home as I usually do, but my partner has been working in an office of hundreds of people, and my teenager has been attending a school of about 3000 people.

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All the while, there is nothing going on here that isn't classified as "low risk". It makes me wonder how many other "low risk" cases there are out there at the moment, with people thinking they're probably fine. How far should the idea of self-isolation should go? How careful can we possibly be while carrying on with our lives?

Among all this chaos and worry, my children are at home with their dad. They aren't feeling all that unwell, so they are playing on their ipads, reading books, watching TV, playing games and generally having a delightful time. 

Coronavirus presents nothing scary to them. They don't know how dangerous the virus is to vulnerable people in our community or the terrifying impact it could have, they just know they need to stay home until we know if they've got it.

Hopefully we'll get the tests results soon and find everyone just has a common cold, and we can get on with our lives. The children can then remember COVID-19 as that awesome few days they got to skive off school without being properly sick, and we'll breathe a sigh of relief that it has passed us by – for now.

So today we contain and we wait – and my ex-husband can prepare himself for another game of Monopoly. 

* The writer has chosen to remain anonymous to protect her family's privacy.