By Chioma Obinna
Despite the guidelines in place by the Federal Government to contain the spread of COVID-19, Nigerians have carried on with their lives as they did before the advent of coronavirus in the country. Despite recording more than 20,000 confirmed COVID1-19 cases, many Nigerians still say the pandemic is a scam to perpetuate corruption. Recently, statistics revealed that 60 percent of Nigerians in the southeast zone consider the pandemic a hoax.
Just last week, a COVID -19 survivor, Mr. Damilare Ojo narrated his experience to Saturday Vanguard. For him, COVID-19 is not a respecter of persons.
Read his experience:
If Damilare had been told he was going to be one of the victims of COVID-19, he would have never believed it. This is because Damilare was one of numerous Nigerians that had a reservation for the pandemic since the confirmation of the index case of COVID–19 virus in Nigeria in February 2020.
However, soon after the Federal government resolved to announce the initial two weeks total lockdown, Damilare became more cautious and conscious of his environment, particularly, with his interaction with the people around him.
“I stopped touching surfaces at random except for going to the market during market days and taking regular long walks in the evening with friends,” he said.
But as the lockdown was further elongated by another two weeks, Damilare began to doubt the numbers being released by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.
According to Damilare, since he personally did not know anyone that had contracted the virus in Nigeria, it was difficult for him to believe the virus was real.
“This was my huge mistake,” he told Saturday Vanguard.
At this point, Damilare began to carry on with his life as if nothing was at stake. “I began to visit some friends within my neighbourhood whom I felt had been home during the lockdown. I continued to go to the market.”
Sadly, precisely on the 9th of May 2020, his temperature began to rise and he started feeling feverish. “It was difficult getting through the night, the high temperature and fever made me very uncomfortable. On the morning of Sunday 10th May 2020, I went to Garki Hospital, Garki, Abuja to do a malaria test. The results came out negative but I was advised to take anti-malaria medication. Upon completing my medication, I felt better.
“I was still worried about the fact that I had no malaria but was very ill. My fears heightened when I lost my sense of smell and couldn’t taste the delicious jollof rice my friend made for me.
”Upon discussion with my friend who accompanied me to the hospital, I resolved to contact the FCT sample collection Centre having surfed the internet and I was directed to call back by 9am on 11th May 2020.”
“I called the Collection Centre in Federal Capital Territory, FCT and a form was sent to me via text message asking me for various information including my name, age, symptoms, whether I had met a confirmed case, etc., all of which I answered.
Upon evaluation, the team at the Centre, he was directed to come for my COVID-19 test. His worst fears were, however, confirmed on the 17th May around 3:24 pm.
“I received a call from Hajia Fatima Ahmed of the Public Heath team of the FCT, who informed me that my test result was positive. I informed Hajia that I needed to speak with my mother as I was totally confused and did not know what to make of the situation.
“On the 18th of May 2020, I was picked up by the NCDC team to the Gwagwalada Isolation Centre. Despite being anxious, I was comforted by the uplifting response that I received from my family and friends and decided to remain positive.”
Upon his arrival at the Centre, Damilare was received by the doctors who collected his blood samples and conducted a briefing of how the Centre operates including the discharge rate at the Centre., nature of drugs to be administered, feeding, his next COVID-19 test among others.
One thing that worked for Damilare was the fact that all through the period he remained optimistic and did not see himself as one with any ailment.
”I was listening to my music, working as I had my laptop and my internet with me whilst remaining active on social media and engaging with friends and family who continued to encourage me.
“I also participated in the Hallelujah Challenge by Nathaniel Bassey and joined various Instagram Live sessions of my Church, RCCG Throne Room, Abuja.”
Just like a miracle in the old, exactly 5 days after he arrived at the Isolation Centre, a COVID-19 test was carried on him and others in the centre to determine their status after 5 days of treatment. The samples were collected for him and a number of people at the Centre who were due for the test.
Damilare continued with his regular life of positivity at the Centre and by the morning of Monday 25th May 2020 after joining the Instagram Live Session of his Church, the doctor informed him that his result was negative.
Lo and behold, Damilare was discharged from the Centre.
Damilare burst into tears after the news was broken to him; the news of his result was indeed an emotional one as he had barely spent 7 days at the Centre.
Unlike other COVD-19 survivors who faced stigmatisation after they were discharged from the isolation centre, Damilare was received with joy by friends and family on getting back home.
Based on videos/pictures from various isolation centres on social media, Damilare, prior to his testing positive to the virus had lacked faith in the way the Government had been handling COVID patients but he was highly impressed by the response when he was infected. Damilare said the process of his test at the first instance was indeed seamless and the manner of evacuating him from his house to the Isolation Centre was done in a very good manner as the health officials were well guarded in their PPE’s.
“All cares given to me and all persons at my Centre including feeding, contact racing, ’medications, etc. were at no cost to me or any patient but the Government, he said.
He, however, condemned the process of communicating the result of lab tests to patients as the test results are communicated via telephone call only. I would propose that results are communicated via e-mail or text messages in addition to the phone calls.”
Damilare also condemned the fact that survivors upon discharge, are not taken back home. Worse still, the patients were not properly briefed.
“This I feel is unsatisfactory as I am sure many other patients, are not familiar with most of the centres having been driven there.
“I was only given a face mask and was told that I was free to go home. This arrangement is sub-standard and I would suggest that Centres properly brief recovered patients on how exactly they are to interact again with society and to know whether recovered patients can contract the virus again.”
Damilare who felt that the disease has shaped his understanding of the pandemic said: “COVID-19 is real. The myth that the virus could affect only aged persons is not true in its entirety. The virus affects all persons regardless of race, age, health issues, etc. I also learnt that the virus is not really a death sentence per se but it sure can take life and one will be indeed lucky if it does not take our life”
According to Damilare, having survived the dreaded virus, he has decided to engage on Nationwide advocacy to enlighten the people at all levels especially those in the hinterlands on the existence of the coronavirus and the impact it can have on health.
“I will be calling on all persons and organizations including all recovered COVID-19 patients interested in this campaign and hope to collaborate to please contact me via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on +2349099993465.”