There was an outbreak of COVID in my house as last weekend approached and so I told myself that I must do the correct thing.
I immediately went into self isolation (because I had been exposed) and started cancelling all physical engagements that I had committed to attend over the course of the next few days.
One of the first casualties was a Future Leaders Network event billed for Saturday morning in Ikoyi where I was supposed to be the Keynote Speaker. I contacted them and offered to deliver my Keynote Address virtually instead. Dr Tony Rapu (Medical Doctor & Pastor) was the intermediary for this engagement.
He was the one who pressured me to commit to being the Keynote Speaker at this event that was organised by a bunch of highly responsible young men. Tony even held an emergency conference call between the young leaders, himself and myself to help “pacify” them after I cancelled my physical participation. They decided to postpone their event on account of my physical absence; they felt it was too late in the day to hurriedly arrange for my virtual participation instead.
I maintained my ground with all and sundry that it would be irresponsible for me to start going around Lagos attending physical functions at a time when there had been an outbreak of COVID in my house. I know a little bit about the Omicron variant and how highly transmissible it is. That I had no symptoms whatsoever was not the issue. The chances were that I could be at the incubation stage.
It would suffice to say that I cancelled all physical engagements in Lagos, including Weddings, Business Meetings etc. Then I got a phone call inviting me to go to Aso Rock on Wednesday to attend the launching of the new National Development Plan 2021-25 by Mr President, in my capacity as Co-Chairman (Private Sector) of the National Steering Committee that was set up to produce the Plan. Indeed, my Co-Chairman (Public Sector) called me also i.e. the Finance Minister. I told her that I felt fine and had no symptoms, but that the correct thing to do (as per NCDC protocols) was that I must continue to self-isolate.
In anycase, my latest COVID test had been taken on Monday morning by 54-Gene and the result was not yet out. The Finance Minister accepted my logic and said she would explain my absence for health reasons and based on a strict adherence to the NCDC safety protocols. We even discussed how long the incubation period could stretch.
This morning (Tuesday) I woke up and saw an email that came in overnight containing my COVID test result from Monday (yesterday) morning and it was POSITIVE.
I have chosen to tell this story so others can learn from it. If I did not steadfastly cancel all engagements since Friday morning, only God knows how I might have contributed to the spread of COVID in Nigeria simply by being irresponsible and disobedient.
I still do not have any COVID symptoms, but in a sense my positive test result was both a relief and a lesson. To all those who felt I was being too strict to the point of being ridiculous, I stand vindicated. I am relieved because some people argued with my stance and felt I was simply overzealous. Now they know different.
Apart from using my plight to serve as a lesson to others, my final reason for making this public is to help a few misguided persons who still prefer to stigmatise COVID. There is nothing to be ashamed about if you are the latest person to be caught by a pandemic.
Finally, please get your head around this; I had taken two doses of the Astrazeneca Vaccine in early March and late May 2021 and I also took the Pfizer booster shot last week in Victoria Island and yet COVID still knocked on my door. I was well prepared in the sense of taking all the preventive measures which the Nigerian Government placed at my disposal. Perhaps the vaccines help to make me asymptomatic (so far) ? Are you as well prepared as I was? If you are not, what do you intend to do about it?
*Atedo N A Peterside CON
Chairman, Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank