The COVID before Christmas 2021

I did not write this article to take sides, or say who is right and who is wrong (still, fuck you if you are anti vaccines), but merely to document my personal (awful) experience with having COVID around Christmas in Milan, Italy.

It all started Saturday, December 18th. I went out with three friends (let's call them B, C and G) for some drinks and sushi, before coming back home to top it all off with a fine glass of Octomore.

We are all vaccinated - I personally haven't had my booster yet. I was supposed to get it on the 23rd, the same day I tested positive for COVID-19 - therefore COVID was an afterthought, plus Milan seemed like it was doing just fine around that date.

We had a great night, wished each others happy holidays, then each person retreated to their domicile. Tuesday, December 21st, I met up with G for lunch. I wasn't feeling super well, but I gave it no mind since I have a lingering issue where I have flu-like symptoms every couple of month, manifested by a slight fever, muscle ache followed by a pharyngitis (I know, right?!). G was doing fine. Long story short, we have lunch, exchange gifts and I head back home.

Thursday, December 23rd, was my last day at Gucci (more on that in another article, maybe). So I head to work, feeling ok at this point, to hand in my MacBook and iPhone. Soon as I get to the office, I get a text from G saying that he and B tested positive for COVID-19 during a routine check pre Christmas gatherings. C tested negative, because fuck C. So I do what any sane person would, and try to find a place where I can get tested immediately, but to no avail.

I contact around 8 different pharmacies and 2 clinics. No one was running COVID tests unless a prior appointment was set, and the first availability they had was after December 2nd (LOL). What was even weirder they all ran out of DIY kits. Bear in mind we are talking about Milan. The economical capital of Italy. A member of the G7. That Milan had ran out of DIY kits and was not ready to test people, during a December Holiday, 2 years into a Pandemic. Anyway, I finally managed to land my hands on a DIY test on the next day through my girlfriend's dad who bought it from Germany for 2 euros (compared to 15 in Italy 🤦🏻‍♂️). I take the test, and as expected, I tested positive. Cool.

I did not panic. I isolated, let my parents know that I am not coming home for the holidays, and tried to call my doctor. Tried, because he was unreachable. I cannot fathom how doctors are available 2 hours per day. This shit is beyond my comprehension, but it's for another rant.

So now I am stuck with a positive DIY test, no way to reach my doctor, no pharmacy or clinic to do a "certifiable" test, and it's the day before the Christmas weekend. Which in case you didn't know, Italians are the laziest workers on earth, and would jump onto any opportunity to not work, so imagine the combo of Holiday + Weekend.

In a normal situation the best course of action would be to isolate for 10 days, and then take a test after to make sure everything is back to normal. But here is where everything became tricky. I can't just isolate and wait till it passes. If you get COVID, you are required to wait 3 month, at least in Italy, before getting your next vaccine shot. And you are handed an updated GreenPass with an updated expiry date. But only if your COVID case is officially documented. Mine, up to this point was not, so I risked losing my GreenPass (Seriously, if you oppose the GreenPass and vaccination, FUCK YOU!)

The weekend passes by, I wait till Monday, December 27th, and try to reach my doctor again. This time he answers. I explain that I tested positive, but took the test home, because Milan does not have availability for tests and his answer was, and I kid you not "you have to get the test in a pharmacy, go look for one, and call me back at 12" - he never answered his phone again. Now I am no expert, but if I'm a COVID risk, with a positive DIY test, I should not be asked to "go out around the crowded city with your virus, and find a place to get another test just because".

We go out at 10 (It's a we at this point, because my girl whom I live with, had to act like a positive at this point), and visit 12 pharmacies between Sant'Agostino and via Torino (two central areas in Milan). Either they were by reservation only with first availability early January, OR, to quote one pharmacist "are not interested in running tests, because they don't want to get sick during the holidays". After a couple of hours of searching and googling and calling, we find this pharmacy called New Beretta Pharmacy which ran tests without having to book beforehand.

As you can imagine, we get there, and the waiting line was infinite. We ended up waiting under the rain, out in the cold for TWO HOURS. TWO FUCKING HOURS, to get tested, and be told what we already knew, that we were positive, but this time it was communicated to the ATS. Now, I am stuck 4 more days at home, since my initial diagnosis was never validated, therefore the 10 days start from December 27th instead of December 23rd.

Here are my takeaways and questions:

  • Someone else in my shoes could have given up, never reported his positive test, waited it out, or even worse acted as if nothing was, because it is easier to lie than coming forward.

  • Why is Milan not prepared for a spike in testing, after allowing everyone to let their guards down for the last few month?

  • Why is a positive DIY test not valid? I can understand a negative one, that might have been taken wrong, but a positive one?

  • Why is my doctor such a clown? Anyone can recommend a good young doctor in Milan?