Getting Tested for Coronavirus As an Expat & the Brno Café Supporting Covid-19 Awareness

Since Monday, October 5th, Czech Republic has returned to a state of emergency due to the larger number of cases. How did a country that took such proactive steps against coronavirus transmission become one with one of the fastest-growing caseloads in Europe?

I can see two reasons for this. The first is that Czechs are starting to protest masks and anti-coronavirus regulations, like restrictions on large gatherings. Unfortunately, many Europeans are starting to see sensible methods of protecting our hospitals and citizens as a burden on their personal freedom.

(To be fair, some unscrupulous governments are hurting public trust by passing invasive anti-privacy measures during lockdown, and this is a serious problem. It does not, however, minimize the risk of the virus itself.)

I hear even some of my friends saying the measures are overboard and that the virus is not as serious as it seems, which is extremely disappointing to me. I wonder where they could have learned that, considering the wide range of health risks for people of all ages?

The second is that, thankfully, Czech Republic has ramped up testing in a big way during the second wave. It is not perfect – there are often week-long wait times for test sign-ups, and the Hygiene office is swamped with the need for fast and efficient contact tracing – but the supplies and the drive are there. If we know how many true cases there are, we can protect more people – something that was more difficult during the first wave. See the latest global updates here.

Why I needed a coronavirus test

I’ve had covid on my mind since it arrived – who hasn’t? – but it really became real for me a few weeks ago when my father-in-law was exposed at work. Thankfully his case was very mild and largely asymptomatic aside from some tiredness, but we quarantined at home for 2 weeks.

See the Brno Expat Centre’s Guide to braving coronavirus as an expat in Czech Republic.

In the midst of this, I spoke with the Hygiene office and was ultimately recommended for a covid test. I was pleasantly surprised that the health representative did not mind speaking with me in English, but disappointed that contact tracing was not as wide-ranging as I expected – I was only questioned about whether I came into contact with older people or front-line health workers, rather than all people I might have been with.

How do you pay for a coronavirus test?

Since I don’t currently have health insurance in the Czech Republic specifically, there were some ups and downs. With insurance, a covid test is free. Without, you can pay for it yourself as a “samoplat” and it will cost you about 2000czk. In the end, with a lot of help from my wonderful doctor and the understanding staff at the testing facility + hospital in Tišnov, my blue health card (a European insurance card that you can apply for if you have residency in a Schengen country; in my case, Denmark) functioned as full insurance.

My experience being tested for coronavirus

Where: I received my test at 7:30 am (all testing is done early, as you should not eat or drink anything for 1-2 hours ahead of time). I was greeted by the health worker in full PPE and entered a white trailer located in the garden of the hospital to keep testing facilities separate from elderly patients. The trailer was empty except for a chair for me to sit in, and a small table/filing cabinet, I assume to keep exposure risk low.

How: The nurse stuck a long cotton swab up both my nostrils; I was terrified that it would hurt, but it was only mildly uncomfortable and over in just a few seconds. The nurse then gave me a sheet of paper with instructions and a personal code for receiving my results.

The result: I did not personally have to use this code, as I got a text message within 24 hours (may be within 48 hours, or you may need to log into a portal, depending on your circumstances) with my result: Negative.

What if you test positive? People who test positive will receive a paper in the mail as well as a phone call for further follow up.

And if you test negative? There is no further follow-up. You can access your test results online if you like. Insurance should take care of payment for you.

I escaped a positive result, but not my father-in-law joking how unfair it was that he had to share a house with two negative women (my mother-in-law also, thankfully, tested negative) for the entire quarantine period. Ba-dum chh 🥁

How I feel about covid-19 testing

If anything, getting a test myself has increased my drive to show people how necessary this is. For as much we know, there are still a lot of mysteries, which makes the virus a serious threat.

Getting a negative test result does not give you an excuse not to social distance or to go wild. You can still contract the virus later in the week that you receive a negative test result – since the test generally only shows you whether you currently have the virus or not, negative results are not immunity. They are also not evidence of whether you have had covid in the past or whether you have antibodies – that is a separate test.

I am extremely thankful that the European health care system makes it easy for people to access tests at a low cost (even if you pay yourself).

We are all frustrated, upset, and tired, but the world has changed and we need to accept that we all play a part in keeping people safe. You can have a life, but not your “normal life,” as this is not a normal world. We need to adjust our travel and our movements to protect others. Meet friends, but keep your distance. Have a record of the people you’ve come into contact with. Don’t unnecessarily put others at risk just because you want to have fun.

A Brno café that has taken a unique approach

It’s important to be careful for your own health and the safety of others. That’s why I love how Kult Café in Brno has embraced the seriousness of a collective coronavirus response by decking its walls with coronavirus-inspired art, including models and illustrations of the virus, mask designs, and drawings of people wearing masks.

Check out how they are keeping this top of mind over a cup of coffee:

Kult shows the clear message that yes, the world has changed – but we can face the changes together, as informed, stylish, and well-caffeinated human beings.

It’s not a café where you can ignore the reality of the situation. So embrace it and learn about it while finding community over delicious homemade breakfasts, pastries, and a diverse range of coffee drinks.

I have emailed the management asking for comment about their design choices and support of covid-19 awareness. I hope to update this article with their comments.


  1. Thanks for sharing your story. I had two covid tests before dental appointments to get cleared beforehand. I find the nose swab part uncomfortable too, especially when my allergies were acting up! Glad you tested negative. I did too both times because I have pretty much been sheltering in place these past 6 months and taking every precaution. Still, waiting for results can be rather nerve-wracking! Although, it was comforting to know I have been doing the right thing when I got negative test results

    Liked by 1 person

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