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Taking COVID-19 test in Prague: what is it really like?

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The past year has been a bruiser for most and this week has been no exception.

With the virus slowly creeping around us, one-by-one our friends and family test positive. We have been lucky to have avoided the inevitable, and continue to error on the side of caution, but the numbers are starting to work against us, COVID virgins.

The week started off with a Sunday plunk. Not just any plunk. I took my sons out for a walk by the river and the younger one decided to go for a swim. The river water is much higher than average so they had to resort to finding smaller stones and launching them into the river from the stairs,  with my boy losing his balance and plunking into the water, head-first.

I lunged after him before the waters could carry him into Prague proper, and one-handedly scooped him up and threw him onto the banks. Growing up in Canada, and having done this several times myself growing up, I knew the drill: all wet clothes off, cover him up in mine, and run the two kilometers home, yelling at my older son to keep up!

Record low temperatures turned Prague into a rare real winter wonderland, and that coincided with a lot of my work being scheduled in the good ‘ole outdoors. By Wednesday morning my body demanded more sleep, and by the evening a nice throat scratch had developed.

The mind is a powerful thing and although I was sure the winter had knocked me down a touch, I was beginning to feel uneasy about a potential COVID transmission. Friday morning the headache and dry cough set-in and I knew it was time to do the responsible thing: Take a COVID test.

I called my doctor, because I heard that if the doctor sends you, it’s FREE! She set me up and put my information in the central database. Then I jumped onto my computer and looked up “COVID test Prague 5”, and some options came up. I remembered seeing people standing at those COVID test centers all over Prague: nervous, scared, annoyed. I dreaded the thought of standing there, with fellow COVIDers, risking exposure to the virus, or giving it to someone else! Then I noticed the dream solution: GenDetective Branik Drive-IN. I thought that if ever, the time for the El Americano drive-IN was here!

It was Friday afternoon, and I looked at the times. Basically, every three minutes one can reserve a test, and they were all available – JACKPOT! I booked one in 30 minutes, jumped into my car, and hightailed it to Branik, home of the high-quality brew, bought largely in two-liter plastic bottles, drunk in front of supermarkets across the whole country.

I followed the string of signs, which was great because my outdated GPS didn’t have the address which was given on the website. Drove up to a window, showed my VZP card and was asked to pull up “under the roof.” A pretty, smiling nurse came out in a full-on ghostbusters uniform and politely asked me to open my mouth. I followed the instructions trying to manage a smile before a long brush-like item was inserted into my throat. She missed her mark asked me to exhale and open up more. Prodding away trying to capture her target did not dampen her spirits as she smiled away as I chocked on, briefly believing that my recently consumed lunch was changing direction. Finally, she got what she was looking for and turned away managing a “nashledanouthrough the mask.I only managed a low gurgle and drove off. Happy that the process was rather quick and painless.

Oh! And my son is fine. I got the cold, my test came back NEGATIVE less than 21 hours after my drive-In experience.

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