So I had COVID-19 and my self-isolation experience

As we all know Malaysia takes COVID-19 very strictly with MySejahtera and quarantine, the experience of getting infected with COVID-19 and the steps you need to take are dramatically different between Malaysia and the UK. The first time I went shopping at the Friary Shopping Centre, it felt really weird being able to walk into shops without having to scan a QR code to check-in or having to show my vaccination certificate (something you will eventually get used to). Recently, I was infected with COVID-19 and self-isolated for 10 days. This blog will be about my self-isolation experience living in a university hall and the support provided by the University of Surrey.

First day of testing positive for COVID-19

On 28/2, I was feeling lethargic and had swollen eyes in the morning but I had a 9am practical to attend so I went ahead with my day thinking I was just sleep-deprived. During my practical session, I was having a runny nose thinking it was due to a sinus infection that I often encounter. My throat started to act up during lunchtime so I had a peppermint tea at Hillside Restaurant which made me feel better. I had one lecture class to attend after lunchtime, it was a large group and the topic was not particularly interesting so I dozed off for a few minutes. After the lecture, I felt uneased and decided to use the lateral flow test that the university provide to test to be safe. I saw the line next to the T getting darker and darker, I started getting really anxious. The next thing I did was test again (wishing it was false positive), the result was the same I was tested positive for COVID-19.

The next thing I did was text my coursemate that I had lunch with and the people I was close contact with for the past few days. After that, I went on the university website to check for information regarding self-isolation. I gave the Senate-House reception a call and they transferred my call to the rapid response team. No one picked up my call but I left my details in the voicemail, I felt really hopeless at that moment and did not know what to do. After a few minutes, I received a call and it was the rapid response team. The lady that called asked regarding my situation on what symptoms I have and check on how I feel, which made me feel better. You will not need to report to NHS anymore if you have tested positive and are not legally required to self-isolate but it is advised that you stay at home and avoid contact with other people. However, the uni recommends that you self isolate after testing positive to avoid spreading to other students especially in lecture halls and in your flat. She emailed me a form to fill up and you are able to request an isolation buddy that can help you get food and anything you need during your isolation period.

Living in shared accommodation and how to get food?

I live in Band C which means that I have to share toilets, showers and a kitchen with my flatmates. If you are self-isolating, you still can use the shared amenity in your flat but make sure to notify your flatmates whenever you are out of your room/using the kitchen. What I did was I pasted a sheet of paper on one of the toilet and shower doors with a label saying COVID to inform my flatmates that I will be using the specific ones during my self-isolation period.

For the next few days, I ordered takeaway and wrote a note on the delivery app to notify the riders that I am covid-19 positive and preferred contactless delivery. Most of the drivers were nice enough to walk up the emergency exit stairs so I did not have to leave my flat.

Support provided by University during self-isolation period

Every other day, the rapid response team would give me a call to check on how I feel on that day, they also asked if there is anything I needed. They \ provided a self-isolation kit consisting of wet wipes, hand soap, sanitiser, garbage bag and tissues. It was something really thoughtful of the university, overall I am very satisfied with the COVID-19 related services provided by the University of Surrey.

Fast forward 10 days later, it is the second day in a row I tested negative. I was able to finally go grocery shopping and do my laundry. I finally used the kitchen and one of my flatmates was nice enough to offer me dumplings for dinner which was really nice to finally able to socialise with people and not stuck in my room. I will finally be able to attend in-person lectures after missing out for more than a week.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, even though it is not legally required to self-isolate. It is important we do our part to stop the spread and self-isolate. The university provides a lot of support to students, make sure to seek help if needed. The university also provides free test kits (this can differ as the UK government might stop supplying free LFTs to universities) that you can collect at various collection points. Make sure to register for a GP to ensure you have access to healthcare in case of any emergency.