Mystery of Covid close contact alert which leads to quarantine for News Letter reporter

News Letter’s Graeme Cousins has been told to quarantine for 14 daysNews Letter’s Graeme Cousins has been told to quarantine for 14 days
News Letter’s Graeme Cousins has been told to quarantine for 14 days
At around 7.45pm on Sunday night my phone pinged to let me know I had a notification.

I assumed it was from Whatsapp, or, better still, from Sky Sports telling me Leicester had scored in a match I wasn’t paying £14.99 to see.

It’s fair to say I was alarmed when I read it was from the Stop Covid NI app.

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I was told I’d been in close contact (15 minutes or more at two metres distance or less) with someone who’d tested positive for Covid-19. The result: self-isolation for 14 days.

The alert received on the Stop Covid NI appThe alert received on the Stop Covid NI app
The alert received on the Stop Covid NI app

When I read it out loud, the kids, who never normally listen, jumped to the conclusion I had coronavirus. Immediately my armchair was pushed two metres away from everyone else’s seat of choice.

I explained I’d only been told to keep an eye on symptoms, I didn’t necessarily have it, and the rest of the household didn’t have to quarantine.

As my wife hadn’t got a notification I knew the trigger had come when I’d been out alone. That narrowed it down to playing football or doing a Tesco run. I don’t get out much.

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I messaged the guys on the football Whatsapp. A few came back to say they hadn’t got a notification, but then one of the players replied to say he’d tested positive on Saturday.

Mystery solved, I thought. Not quite. His phone was in his car during football when we’d played together on Wednesday while mine was pitchside – further than two metres apart. He wasn’t the one.

I continued to wrack my brain. I very much doubted whether I’d been static in Tesco for long enough to register.

Another possibility hit me – what if someone at the bus stop in front of our house triggered it, given the proximity of my study to the area of congregation? I measured the distance – eight metres. I’m clutching at straws.

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While the app maintains anonymity, for those who get that dreaded ping, it’s the not knowing that eats away at you.

The timing isn’t as bad as it could be. The kids are off school and are content to sit in the house playing with toys, mostly electronic ones, and occasionally raise merry hell.

I feel fighting fit, yet rather useless. My wife must steer the household as I attempt to stay out of everyone’s way.

You could argue it’s a husband’s dream – sitting around doing precious little and remaining untouchable in terms of admonishment for it.