Getting COVID in the ACT

So last week, SARS-CoV-2 came for me.

We had a weekend church camp, and God decided that we'd also get a weekend church COVID outbreak with it. I was even wearing a KN95 mask for much of it, unlike most people, but it still got me - that's life in the time of living with Omicron.

A couple of days after coming back, I felt a bit sick, I assumed it was just dehydration but my more cautious side got the better of me and I headed down to the Garran Surge Centre for a PCR test.

This blog post is about what to expect from ACT Health after you test positive.

Day 1 (Diagnosis)

The first notification I got was a text message informing me of the positive test result:

Initial notification from ACT Pathology

[Edit: to be clear - the day you get tested is Day 0, not Day 1. As I went to get tested late in the evening and didn't get my result until the next morning, the day that I got my result message was Day 1.]

A few minutes later, I got a second text message, with more information and a unique link to complete a Case Investigation Interview via a form on the Redcap platform:

Invitation to complete Case Investigation Interview Case Investigation Interview

The form asks for demographic data (sex, country of birth, ethnicity, Indigenous status, occupation, whether you need culturally and linguistically diverse support), your email address, your isolation address, and an emergency contact.

It also asks you why you got a COVID test, whether you have symptoms, whether you consent to being a part of COVID Care@Home, and your medical history including pre-existing conditions, current medications, and of course COVID vaccination status.

The two things that annoyed me about this form:

After completing the form, you receive an email with additional information, similar to what you can find on the website:

COVID information email

At this point, I told my housemate that he had to complete a COVID-19 Declaration Form, which he promptly did.

Day 2

On day 2, I got a text with a link to a quick Wellbeing Survey on Redcap, as did my housemate:

Wellbeing Survey invite text Wellbeing Survey part 1 Wellbeing Survey part 2

If you answer yes to anything, you're supposed to get a call from the COVID Wellbeing Team - I have no idea how well this actually works.

I also got an invitation to sign up for COVID Care@Home daily monitoring via the MyDHR digital health record system (which you may be more familiar with as the system used for vaccination bookings at ACT hubs):

MyDHR invite text

MyDHR is an installation of Epic Systems' MyChart product, which has a mobile app. It's a fairly... enterprise product, but oh well, such is government software.

Obviously, I'm a pretty low-risk COVID patient who doesn't really benefit from the monitoring, but I went ahead and signed up anyway because why not. You're given a risk assessment questionnaire, a daily questionnaire about your current symptoms, and twice-daily requests to enter in your temperature, pulse and SpO2. (If you're a higher-risk patient, you're supposed to get a thermometer and pulse oximeter delivered to you. I'm not higher-risk, but I decided to just enter values from my Fitbit.)

MyDHR Risk Assessment MyDHR COVID-19 Condition Monitoring MyDHR Measurements

Day 3

No texts or emails today, just the twice-daily pings from MyDHR.

Day 4

I (and my housemate) got a second Wellbeing Survey, identical to Day 2.

Day 5

No texts or emails for me. My housemate got a text reminding him that he was required to undergo a test on Day 6.

Day 6

No texts or emails.

Day 7 (Release)

And finally the big day, Day 7. As a COVID-positive patient, you need your clearance certificate in order to formally leave isolation, which generally ends at midnight on Day 7.

MyDHR asks you to complete the regular health monitoring, as well as a "Respiratory Issues Prior to Discharge" questionnaire, whose only question is how many days it's been since you've experienced a respiratory symptom.

It got to 4pm and I was wondering whether my clearance paperwork would arrive in time for midnight, so I gave them a ring and was promptly informed that they had technical issues which were delaying the messages, and I should just leave quarantine anyway come midnight, certificate or no certificate.

By 5:15pm, they had evidently fixed things up, and I got a text message:

Clearance text message

This was followed at 5:19pm by the clearance certificate:

Clearance certificate

And that's that, I think. In a bit under 2 hours from now, I get to leave the house. It's very exciting!

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