Oh no – a positive COVID test!

Oh no – a positive COVID test!

Let’s hope that social distancing and fresh air did the job

03-11-2021 · Editorial

It’s the Monday after autumn break. We’re less than thirty minutes into our morning meeting when one of our colleagues is called away for a phone call. WD returns three minutes later, stunned. Her husband, who has had the sniffles since Sunday, did a self-test. He tested positive. She can’t believe it; he’s fully vaccinated and has always been very careful to avoid catching the virus. He has booked an appointment at a GGD test site. She gathers her things and heads home, picking up her children from school on the way.

As usual, we are social distancing in our meeting, and the window is wide open. Another colleague was in Germany last week and got tested when she returned, as recommended by the Dutch government. She also tests herself at home twice a week, to keep the people around her safe. I immediately order a few self-tests online. Until recently, I felt relatively safe with my vaccinations, open windows, frequent hand washing and avoiding of crowded events. I didn’t use self-tests. But more and more vaccinated people around me are contracting the virus, and it’s not like they are going out on the town every night or attending big parties. On the contrary, they’re all quite careful.

It’s Tuesday morning, 8:30 AM, when we learn that the positive test result has been confirmed by the GGD. Our colleague’s husband is self-quarantining at home in one of their son’s rooms. Before she can even think about work, our colleague must arrange online learning and homework for her children – who must also stay at home – and book a test for herself. She has a headache, so she’s a bit worried. Take it easy, we tell her. Family comes first, work comes second. We’ve lost track of how many times we’ve said this to each other over the last eighteen months.

I check out her work plan for this week. What can wait? Which articles have to appear on the website or in the newspaper sooner rather than later? Around 11.30 AM, she has gotten tested for COVID-19, brought her husband a hot cup of tea, and put her children to do their schoolwork. It’s time for a phone call.

We quickly agree to wipe her schedule. She will have to miss our Thursday evening event with Janine Abbring, the host of the popular Dutch TV programme Zomergasten, which she prepared together with our former colleague WB for the second time (lockdown forced us to postpone it the first time). Even if she tests negative, and would therefore be allowed to go under the current Dutch COVID rules, neither of us feel comfortable with the thought of her presenting an event in a crowded auditorium when one of the people she lives with is infected. I will fill in for her, although WB will do most of the interview.

Today, on Wednesday, we learn that she tested positive. Let’s hope that social distancing and fresh air did the job last Monday.