Ibadan-based businessman, Mr Omololu Akinyosoye, tells Punch that he has been told that one needs to lobby to get the result of coronavirus test
Why did you go for a COVID-19 test?
I had a friend who died of COVID-19 and I had contact with him three or four days before he died. My late friend had thought he had malaria, but it was when he got to hospital that he was told that he had COVID-19. He died about three days later. So, I thought to myself that it would be best to get tested so that I could save my life in case I had been infected. Since I lived in Ibadan, I put a call through to the Oyo State COVID-19 emergency number and I was asked to go get tested immediately and that was what I did.
When did you go for the test?
I had the test precisely on June 18, 2020. I did it at the Jericho Specialist Hospital, Ibadan.
What was the test centre like when you visited?
There was a canopy outside, where we were attended to. The place looked untidy. There was no professionalism. There was disorder there. In fact, there was no privacy for any patient. You would just be called upon and you would have to reveal your medical history, phone number and home address to the hearing of everyone. Everyone could pretty much hear about your medical history. I disagreed with them over this approach and I was given a form to fill.
How long did it take before you were attended to?
I waited in line. It took about 45 minutes before I was attended to and after I was tested, I was told that I could leave.
When did they tell you the test result would be ready?
They told me it would take two weeks. When I asked why, they said they would need to take the test samples to the University College Hospital, Ibadan. They said the result would not be out on time because Ondo State and others usually send samples to the UCH. In other words, the UCH has just one molecular lab, which many other states are using. I thought this to be pathetic. Anyway, they said they would contact me through the telephone or email.
What was your response when they told you to wait for two weeks?
I was angry but they said their hands were full. The UCH was meant only for Oyo State, but other states are also sending samples to it. They said they couldn’t handle the high demand. When I asked why they couldn’t set up more labs, they said this was what the government could afford.
Now that you don’t know your status, what have you been doing?
I’ve been following the guidelines. I wash my hands regularly and wear my face mask. I actually bought the N95, which is the most effective. That is what I wear. I don’t go out anymore. I stay at home. I only go out when it is absolutely necessary.
Now that it’s been three weeks without any response, what efforts have you made to get your result?
Three days ago, I went to the Governor’s Office. I was told Governor Seyi Makinde was not around so I requested to see his chief of staff, but I was told he was in a meeting. So, I was introduced to one Adebowale Falana, who happens to be an assistant to the chief of staff. When I narrated my predicament to him, he picked his phone and called the doctor at the hospital, where I did the test, and he asked why my test result was being delayed. The doctor said my test result would be sent to me as soon as possible. Mr Falana subsequently gave me his phone number. That was three days ago. I still have not received the test result. When I called Mr Falana, he said ‘What do you want me to do?’ and I responded, ‘I beg your pardon, what do I want you to do? I want my result. Why don’t you escalate it to the governor? The result ought to have been out by now. I don’t need to lobby for it’. He said he would call the doctor but there has been no development till now. It is atrocious.
Have you been in isolation?
As I said earlier, I have been indoors. Fortunately, I live alone; so I am not in constant contact with anyone.
Given your experience, do you think Nigeria can win the fight against COVID-19?
This fight against COVID-19 is just a waste of time. In Ondo town, three people, who I knew, died while they were waiting for their results. Messages were sent to that they had tested positive after they had died. What is the purpose of taking a test when you may not live to see the result? In other countries, results are out between 24 and 48 hours. I have been waiting for three weeks. I will no longer plead with them for the result.
Nigeria has failed. I don’t think Nigeria can win this fight. Look at our population, which is about 200 million. How many people have they tested? We are chasing shadows. One day, I know we shall overcome. I am a fan of Governor Makinde, but he has failed as far as this COVID-19 response is concerned. Even Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State hasn’t done well. All samples are sent to Akure for testing. Samples are sent to the UCH.