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Lagos COVID-19 test frustration

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Sir: Permit me to express my concern through your widely read newspaper on the challenge we are faced with in testing for COVID-19.

I am worried because I know of a man who needed to do the COVID-19 test because of his job. Apparently taking a precautionary measure owing to the rapid spread of the virus in Lagos, this fellow had to go for the test because his boss had demanded it to ensure everybody was okay. Being unable to read and write, he pleaded with me to assist to take him there.

On Tuesday, August 4, 2020, at about 10:00 a.m., we got to the Mainland Hospital COVID-19 centre where the man was quickly attended to by being assigned a number on the queue. His number at the time was 93. By 12:00 p.m. he had been attended to with his sample taken. Then set in the question, “when will the result be out?” His contact detail was taken and he was asked to wait for three to four days for the result. He was to receive his result via his mobile phone.

The wait for the result had led to worry. The pulsating of the heart had become almost chaotic. Well, the third day came without any message from the centre. On the morning of the fourth day, August 7, 2020, waiting for the telephone message was no longer an option. The best thing was to return there to avoid disappointment.

Consequently we set out for the centre to check up the result. After waiting between 10:00 a.m. and 11:05 p.m. at the result unit of the centre we were asked to return on Monday or Tuesday, that is on August 10, or 11, 2020. The result was said not to be ready. This is clearly a full week after sample was taken. The psychological trauma can only be imagined. Frustration was writ large on the man. What would he tell his boss again? He had been given a one week break from work to be sure of his status.

Now the question is: what if this man is actually positive? What if he spreads the virus everywhere he goes? Or are we saying that the COVID-19 test result cannot be ready under 24 hours or 48 hours at most? Is this the way developed countries manage the pandemic? Why is everything difficult in Nigeria? Why is it difficult to achieve real time test result at this point in the management of the pandemic?

• Precious Chris wrote in from Lagos.


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