'He thought it was Ghostbusters': What it's like to watch your child being tested for coronavirus

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Mr Lambert's son is tested for coronavirus. He has been given the all-clear (Pietro Lambert)

A father has described the experience of watching his five-year-old son being tested for coronavirus.

Pietro Lambert said his child thought NHS medics who visited his home to take a sample were the Ghostbusters.

“They played along with it very well,” Mr Lambert told Yahoo News UK.

His son was given the all-clear on Friday having come down with a fever – one of the symptoms of coronavirus – on Saturday while holidaying in Mr Lambert’s native Italy.

Mr Lambert and his family had visited Ortisei for a half-term holiday last week. The resort is in the north of the country, which has been the centre of Europe’s biggest coronavirus outbreak.

A high five with the 'Ghostbuster' (Pietro Lambert)

The family returned home to London on Sunday and Mr Lambert’s son went to school on Monday. However, he was sent home after teachers found out he had been to Italy and had fever.

Mr Lambert’s son and his family self-isolated this week as a precautionary matter. This included the use of separate bathrooms and not sharing the bedroom he usually shares with his sister.

A special unit from University College London Hospital then visited Mr Lambert’s home on Wednesday.

“They asked me to leave the front door open,” he recalled, “and for a separate room where they could get changed into their special equipment.

“They came in the room with my son wearing their masks and gloves, and did a simple test checking the nose and mouth for a sample.

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“It was fine. I felt nothing was going to happen. My kid didn’t understand what was going on. He actually believed the people were the Ghostbusters – which they played along with very well. They really played the role to make him feel comfortable.”

Asked how he felt watching his son being tested, Mr Lambert, who works for Verizon Media, the parent company of Yahoo, said: “I was concerned about coronavirus but in this specific case we were well informed.

Read more: What is coronavirus and what should I do if I have symptoms?

“I felt OK. The whole process has been well managed. I just felt frustrated at being grounded, getting bored.

“My kids were also getting bored not being able to leave the house. They wanted to play and go out and see their friends.” It takes between 24 and 48 hours to get the results.

As of Friday morning, there were 655 cases of coronavirus in Italy, the third highest in the world behind mainland China, where it originated, and South Korea.

Mr Lambert said of his home country: “My immediate concern is ‘am I OK and is my family OK’. But I also look to my society. It will impact tourism and the economy in Italy, so it’s a very complicated situation.”

Asked what the atmosphere was like during his holiday, he said: “I am Italian and we tend to be very dramatic. There was a lot of panic: people going to supermarkets buying water and food like it’s the apocalypse.

“That was the initial reaction but now we are getting more information and the mood will eventually change.”