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‘Two hours, five swabs and we had to pin him down’ Welsh mums talk about what it’s like doing coronavirus tests on their children

Schools are telling parents not to send their children in if they have any symptoms of coronavirus.

But how easy is it to book a test and do it with your child and how quickly to results come back?

Parents report that it can be hard to persuade a young child to have a swab put up their nose or down their throat and advise taking two adults along. Although booking and getting a test is quick and easy, they said doing it can be another matter.

After reports of problems booking tests they said that wasn’t their experience.

Here two mothers describe their experiences doing tests on their young children at the drive-in coronavirus testing centre at the Cardiff City Football Club stadium at Leckwith.

Lowri Davies, mum to four year-old Math



Lowri Davies, from Cardiff, with son Math, four, describes what it’s like taking a young child to do a Covid test

When Lowri’s son Math, four, started coughing one Sunday night she knew she’d have to book a test in the morning or he would not be able to go to school in case it was coronavirus.

“Booking a test at Leckwith was really easy. I went online at 8.15am and got an appointment for 9am. I was really happy.

“I took Math by myself thinking that would be OK. I explained to him what I’d need to do and they slid a pack through the car window with the swabs for the test.

“They told me to do his tonsils but you can’t touch the teeth, tongue or cheeks. Well, if someone touches your tonsils you just close your mouth. He gagged and said no so I asked for another pack.

“The process is that you are in your car and if you need help you put your hazard lights on and they come over.

“Straight away I gave up on his tonsils and tried his nose, but the whole tonsil experience had put him off. I was in the car for half an hour trying to persuade him. He was saying ‘no’ and I was trying to bribe him with toys, but he was kicking and flailing.

“I realised I’d have to come back with my husband and it needed two people.

“When I left they told me we could call a number to ask for an assisted test but when we called that number no one knew anything about it. So we booked another test at Leckwith and got one at 11am which was great.

“We gave Math a pep talk but four is a tricky age because they don’t really understand,

“We were telling him if he didn’t do it we’d have to stay at home two weeks and he wouldn’t be able to see his friends at weekends. We tried for two hours to persuade him.

“We went through four or five swabs before pinning him down. He was crying and I was crying. Somehow my husband Dan held his head and we got the swab up his nose. It was horrible having to do that.

“He was fine afterwards. We were calling the swab the ‘snot gobbler’ and trying to personalise it.

“The test came back negative in 55 hours. We did the test on Monday and got the result on the Wednesday.

“To be honest I knew it was just a cold but knew that if I sent him to school with a cough they would call me and tell me to test him and I needed to do that.

“It was really easy to book a test but not doing it. I think for young children you should just forget the tonsils. I did not think it would be that bad. They should also tell you to take two adults if you can.”

Ruth Walters, mum to Ffion, five



Ruth Walters and daughter Ffion, five, from Cardiff. Ruth said taking her daughter for a Covid test was easier and quicker than she had been led to believe from reports

When Ruth Walters’ five year-old daughter Ffion started coughing last week she decided to book a Covid-19 test. After reading reports saying how hard it was to get a slot locally in Cardiff and how some children didn’t like to do the test, she was concerned,

But Ruth, 37, said the whole process worked well for her from booking to result. She urged other parents and carers not to worry but to follow a few tips to help things go as smoothly as possible.

“Last Friday my daughter woke up coughing and had a bit of a coughing fit so I wanted to address it quickly.

“I was quite anxious about testing so I went online just after 6am and there were 472 slots at Leckwith testing centre (at Cardiff City Stadium) at that time.

“I was pretty sure it was a bad cold but this is about protecting other people and her classsmates and following procedures.

“I tried to explain to her what would happen when we got there. It is all a bit of a surreal set up at a football stadium.

“I told her we were going to have her cough checked. We talked about coronavirus during lockdown but have tried to steer clear since because it is so hard to explain to a five year-old. I just said we needed to check her cough so she wouldn’t pass it on to anyone.

“I was relieved we could get a test. But I had assumed the test at the drive though was done by a medical professional.

“I had been so relieved to get a QR code by email saying she could get a test at 11am that day that I didn’t read further down the message. I was shocked when I was told when I got there that I had to do the test.

“I thought we would get there and someone else would do the test on her.

“I had my 20-month old in the back of the car which added to the stress. It was my fault for not scrolling down on the email that I didn’t realise I had to do the test on her.

“I had read how terrible it was and didn’t want to inflict that on her but it was pretty simple.

She added: “The swab they give you is really small and she was quite happy to have it in her throat, but I did not do 10 seconds by her tonsils because she did not want that done. I just did it as quickly as possible.

“I asked the attendant which was more effective because I knew I would have limited chances.

“The anxiety that followed was spending all weekend worrying about whether it had been inconclusive and I’d have to do it again.

“We isolated all weekend and we got the result, which was negative at 5.50pm on Sunday.

“I think there should almost be different instructions for guidance for how to do the test on children. The video online shows how to do it on an adult.

“My biggest piece of advice would be that people might be really concerned and not do it but if I had to go again I would not be concerned.

“I would say be clear with your child what you have to do before you go and that it’s not that bad.

“I told Ffion a little thing was going to go in her throat and nose.

“I did it with my daughter sitting next to me but it might be better to have two adults so the child can sit on one person’s lap while the other does the test.”



The NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app

Other mums have shared experiences good and bad on social media.

Lauren Burford wrote on Cardiff Mums Facebook page: “My baby just turned one. It was super easy for both of us to have our test done at the local drive-through. Aurora was fast asleep, managed to do both nostrils, all she did was stir a bit.”

Frances Strickland posted on Penarth Mums Facebook page about her experience taking her two year-old and 10-months old daughters to the stadium for a test a few weeks back.

“They gave us the info pack aimed specifically at toddlers and it was really brilliant. Whoever wrote that document needs congratulations. My only criticism was that the instructions weren’t available online as far as i could tell. It would have been useful to have them in advance.”

Emma Blakeney posted on Penarth Mums Facebook page: “Myself and the children have been tested twice, once through the government testing service at Cardiff City Stadium. This form of testing was a challenge. You aren’t allowed out of the car, understandably, but having to reach through and shove a swab up your two year-old’s nose and then down his throat without touching other parts of his mouth was a challenge.

“Luckily, he was fastened in his car seat still. My son was tested one day and then we all came down with symptoms the following day.

“The second time was a referral through the school which led us to Whitchurch. This was an easier experience as they allowed you to put windows down and swabbed your cheeks for myself and son.

“This was a far easier and less upsetting experience.”

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