A Lagos-based pharmacist who has had COVID-19 since December is afraid the second wave of the virus in Nigeria “is about to get worse than first imagined”.
According to the pharmacist, John Olakunle (not real names for fear of losing his job), at least three major problems in Lagos, being the hotbed of COVID-19 in Nigeria, threaten to escalate the situation in the country.
NON-COMMUNICATION OF TEST RESULTS TO PATIENTS
“Non-communication of COVID-19 test results to patients that get tested with Lagos State (that is, patients who have their samples taken from all Lagos State PHCs),” he said.
“I’ve heard this before but I finally experienced it. On 23rd of December 2020, I was terribly sick and before being admitted to a private hospital, I had my samples collected at Ifako Stadium, Ifako Ijaiye PHC Collection Centre. And I was told by their boss, whom I know, that the result would be sent by mail/telephone call within four days. The result was never communicated. In fact, no email till this moment, more than a month after.”
Olakunle returned to the same centre on January 11, 2021 to drop his samples again but up till now, no result has been sent to him, which was the same experience for a friend with whom he went there on both occasions.
PATIENTS WITH MILD SYMPTOMS WHO DON’T KNOW THEIR STATUS
Olakunle sayid many positive patients with mild or serious symptoms who don’t know their COVID-19 status are spreading the virus. He would have fallen into that category, but from his medical knowledge, he knew it was COVID-19 even though there was no result yet.
“I immediately self-isolated because of my medical experience. I had to buy some portable medical equipment to assess my condition as my symptoms got worse. I got doctor friends to check on me and I reported my situation per hour.
“How many Nigerians will do that or how many have the resources? They will go to private and public hospitals and in the process spread it to citizens and family members.”
LAGOS’ TESTING CAPACITY AND EFFECTIVENESS IS WORSE THAN WE IMAGINED
“I can confirm to you that when samples are collected, they are not tested even after 10 days,” he said.
“To know if I’m negative, I went for another test at Ifako Stadium on Monday January 11. When I didn’t get the result on Thursday January 21, I went to Ifako Stadium and a friend told me that even those who did their tests on January 7 — four days before me — are yet to receive their results
“I then got across to a friend who works at the Yaba IDH; he confirmed to me that my result wasn’t ready. This was the same friend who helped me check my result from the test I conducted in December. So this means the results being announced by NCDC for Lagos are from private labs, Nigerian Institute of Medical research (NIMR) and backlogs from the Lagos Biobank.”
Olakunle, who has since resorted to NIMR for all his COVID-19 testing, wants Lagos to send emails and SMS to patients on their COVID-19 status. “And it must be prompt,” he said.
“They are trying but must increase their testing capacity and effectiveness so that Lagosians know their COVID-19 status. That wya, they don’t get to spread it.
“Even positive patients must be followed up on with a phone call by the LASG COVID-19 response team to advise them to self-isolate, otherwise it will be spread.”
THIS SPREAD IS REAL
The first two times Olakunle went to the Ifako Collection centre, there were just a few patients, no more than six each day, waiting to be tested. But when he went there on Thursday January 21, he counted 28 people.
“So it’s spreading fast. It’s a lot,” he said.
“I also went to a private hospital in my early days of sickness. With the benefit of hindsight now, I know I may have had COVID-19 then, though I always wore my mask. But, trust me, I touched doors, chairs and tables I may have spread it.
“So Lagos private hospitals and pharmacies are sure spreading centres for the virus. And funny enough, they don’t enforce the wearing of masks by patients. I know this because my job has been taking me round Lagos pharmacies and hospitals for more than 15 years.”
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