Narrating the trauma his wife and himself suffered at the isolation centre after testing positive for coronavirus, Chief Doyin Okupe, a former Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan, says he came face-to-face with death.
We learnt that you and your wife tested positive for coronavirus and spent 20 days in isolation…
Yes, we both tested positive on April 23 and went into isolation in Sagamu same day. We were both discharged on Tuesday, May 14.
How did you contract the virus?
It’s difficult to say. But obviously I was exposed to someone who was infected. When I developed low-grade fever and my wife had cough, I made a request for test.
What was the process of testing like?
The testing process was easy and simple. I contacted the head of the Ogun State Covid-19 team, Dr. Dele Ajayi, and he handled the whole thing professionally and with dispatch. Within 24 hours, a team from Abeokuta came to my house and tested my whole household. We had issues with the laboratory at UCH, Ibadan. The lab itself was under tremendous pressure due to the avalanche of samples from Oyo State.
At a point, the team, in consultation with the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Yomi Coker, decided that another sample should be taken and sent to the laboratory in Osun. Three days passed but we finally got the result from UCH. But shortly after, Ogun State laboratory got certification and approval to carry out tests.
How would you describe your experience during the isolation and the process of recovery?
The isolation is psychologically traumatic and distressing. We had all the good care possible. Good, neat and modern environment. Superb nursing and professional handling and management. Prompt response to issues and complaints. Even good food.
But the unpredictability of the virus, its potential and possible vagrant behaviour, for me in particular being a medical person, all made life a bit stiff and encumbering. The lucky thing for my wife and I was that we did not come down with any respiratory or breathing problems. Loneliness and anxiety was something we had to deal with.
For us, that did not seem a major problem because we realised that nobody in the world had a cure or solution. So we turned full face to God for healing. We prayed with our prayer ministers, family and friends for seven to 10 hours daily constantly in supplication and praises to God and our Lord Jesus Christ. We took Holy Communion often and claimed the cleansing and healing in the blood of Jesus. And eventually by His stripes at Calvary we were healed.
The recovery phase started with the news of our testing negative on Friday, May 10. We were both joyous. But devil struck two days later on Sunday, the day we had projected to go home. New sets of results came and my wife recorded her second negative while mine came back positive. We saw this as a device of the devil. Instead of being dejected, we rolled up our sleeves spiritually and enlisted the support of our prayer partners.
During that night vigil, we concentrated on Mathew 18: 18 to 20. My wife and I, based on the word in this scripture, discountenanced the result and decreed in an agreement that we will go home on Tuesday, May 14. So, on Monday, the 23th, we packed all our belongings and zipped our two boxes ready to go. The fruits we had left in the fridge were packed together and given to our neighbours.
As God will have it, in clear demonstration of His capacity to answer prayers, I was woken up by a call from Dr Ajayi, the head of the Ogun Covid-19 team, who told us that they now had other results showing negatives and so we can leave that Tuesday! We give all glory to God.
What are the lessons you learnt from this experience?
Lessons learnt, first of all, is that even when the whole world is unsure of which direction to go, or when the crisis of life comes or when, by human standards, we are told that we are disadvantaged, the only one we can look forward to for deliverance is the Almighty God and His only begotten son Jesus Christ.
What advice do you have for people especially those who don’t believe this virus exists?
Anybody who does not believe that Covid-19 is real is in self and destructive delusion. I do not speak vanity. I have gone through the drill. I came face-to-face with Covid-19 and possibility of death. I want to advise and plead with all Nigerians to believe that this scourge is real and dangerous. We need to save our lives even at the expense of hunger.
It is an epidemic. Throughout world history, no epidemic lasts forever. It has come but it will soon go. Maybe July or August. So let us endure just for a little while. If you need not go out, please don’t. Don’t receive visitors, even friends and family till all this is over.
What does our response to pandemic say about our health system?
Definitely, our health system is in a deplorable state. It has always been. Most African countries do not invest in health. So this has put us in a quagmire. However, this is not the time to apportion blames. What will be a monumental disaster is if, after this, we do not change and prioritise our needs. Many people think contracting coronavirus is death sentence while others who tested positive are on the run because of fear of isolation and stigmatization.
What is your perspective on this?
Contacting coronary virus is not death sentence certainly. Majority of affected cases (90 to 92%) will be mild to moderate and most will not require hospitalization and may even get healed without treatment. Some 8% will be severe and about 3% or less will eventually suffer fatality.
Out of the 3% that die, a very high percentage will be due to old age and co-morbidities. It’s sad that people are afraid of isolation centres and some still think it’s a shameful thing. This is wholesomely wrong. Nothing to be ashamed of.
There is no immorality associated with it. So, no need to be ashamed. Also, there is nothing killing or extremely unbearable at the isolation center. My advice is that let us all cooperate with government and subject ourselves to the law. Covid-19 is a phase and it shall pass. Lockdown or no lockdown, people must, with understanding, personally restrict their movements. Stay at home and stay safe.
Put money aside. Let us all assume that, business-wise, this year is not for business. If we all survive at the end of the year, that will be our gain. Only a person who is alive can do business or prosper.
There is no wealth or prosperity in the grave. Let us take a personal decision to stay alive. Wear mask always. Keep physical distance and observe the hygiene protocol as advised by NCDC. May God heal our land in Jesus name.