January 8, 2021

PROCESS: Disembarking the Airplane & Sample Collection

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Getting Off the Plane

When I got off the plane, I was directed to a transport that drove us from the landing strip to the terminal where we’d go through immigrations.

Before getting to the immigration inspection area, I had to complete a form (which was actually given on the plane, but all in Chinese, so I didn’t complete it ??‍♀️ ) that asked about my flight #, seat #, passport #, contact person in China along with Chinese phone number and COVID test results.

With this form, and my passport, I waited in line to be called to the attendant who would review my documents and request my health code.

After this, I was given two little labels with my name and barcodes on them and was put into another line (queue for all of my European friends ?) for collecting samples of my DNA to submit for another COVID test.

As I moved through the lines, there were about eight doors to the sample rooms on each side of the line. All of the occupied rooms that showed a red status at the top of the door in Chinese. The available rooms showed green and I’m guessing the ones that were not in service were the ones with a yellow status.

When my turn came, I went to the nearest room with the green status as directed.

The Sample Collection Process

Leaving my luggage outside of the room’s door (required), I entered and warmly greeted the attendant. She asked for my my passport along with the document that was just filled out, and the labels which she would later affix to the two vials use to collect my samples.

It was not a bad experience at all. I think it was because the attendant who worked with me was really cool… ? I liked her.

How were the samples collected?

There were two samples that were collected – one by mouth and the other by nose.

By Mouth

Saliva was collected from my mouth. The attendant asked me to remove my mask and inserted a long Q-tip in my mouth. It very close to the back of my throat, which both tickled and made me gag. BECAUSE OF MY QUICK REFLEXES ??‍♀️ ? , I grabbed the poor woman’s arm and pulled away but she was ready for me! ? I’m guessing this wasn’t the first time that she had someone like me because she swabbed quickly and retracted the long Q-tip and said with a smirk on her face in Chinese, “I got it. I got it.”

She told me to put my mask back on but to only cover my mouth.

By Nose

After she placed the oral sample in the first labeled vial, she started inching towards me with another long Q-tip.

Me: ?

Her: ?

She could sense that I was tensing up. With a smile and in the sweetest broken English, she said, “No pain.”

Overly dramatic me: WO BU XI HUAN! (Chinese for “I don’t like it.”)

She laughed at me. I mean, literally laughed as she continued inching closer.

Finally, I calmed down, and allowed her to collect the sample from my nasal cavity.

I may or may not have been calm due to her allowing me to hold her arm (completely wrapped in a hazmat suit, BTW) while she slowly inserted the long Q-tip up my nose. ?

Believe it or not, she was really gentle and didn’t dig into my brain like so many of the other horror stories I’ve heard from fellow expats.

And that was it. As she sprayed down the area we were in, I stood in the way of the spray so she could disinfect me and my clothes as well. ? Hey…never miss ya moment, right?

After that it was time to head down to the immigration inspection line and you can read about that status update on the next post!

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