Report has it that with over 159,000 cases and over 1,900 deaths, Nigeria has the second-largest number of COVID-19 cases in Africa.
Earlier this month, Nigeria received approximately 3.92 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, from which Lagos State was allocated 507,742 doses of the vaccine on Tuesday.
The Lagos State Government has now approved 8 health facilities to prescribe COVID-19 vaccinations outside of the state’s 20 local government areas.
Global Citizen interviewed six Nigerians; corporate executive, Ademola Ogunbanjo, media personality, Toke Makinwa, singer and songwriter, Niyola, Denola Grey (actor and fashion consultant), lifestyle influencer, Aderinola Odugbesan-Thomas and activist, Hamzat Lawal, who are all survivors of the coronavirus pandemic.
They spoke about their COVID-19 experiences, how it influenced their lives, and why they believe it is necessary for other Nigerians to wear masks in public and follow social distancing protocols.
On how they contracted the virus:
Ademola Ogunbanjo believes he contracted the coronavirus from his steward. Aderinola Odugbesan-Thomas said she’s not sure how, so she attempted to retrace her steps but couldn’t work it out.
Toke Makinwa said she contracted the virus during the #EndSARS protest. “I did have a face mask on but there were too many people and there were times I had to take off my face mask to maybe drink some water or help feed people that came out.”
Denola Grey said he was highly wary, but he still caught it. Niyola had no idea how she got infected with the infection. When she found out, she was following the proper procedure of checking before travelling.
Aderinola: No, I’m not sure how I caught it, I tried to retrace my steps but couldn’t figure it out.
Hamzat: I honestly do not know how I contracted COVID-19. I was very conscious [of wearing] my face mask, ensured physical distancing, and always washed my hands but for some reason I contracted it and I really can’t say how I got it.
Niyola: I have no idea how I contracted the virus. I travelled and was ready to return. I was following due protocol of testing before travelling when I found out I was positive.
On their most visible symptoms:
Ademola Ogunbanjo initially suspected malaria when he did not have flu-like symptoms. Two weeks later, he was screened for coronavirus, and the results were positive. He began to struggle to breathe normally.
Denola Grey suffered from Coronavirus depression. He was unable to open his eyes or step down the stairs without running out of breath as a result of his illness.
The first thing that came to your mind when they found out they had COVID-19:
The first question that came to Ademola Ogunbanjo’s mind was, “Would I survive?”.
Aderinola was worried about her immune system and how it could work out.
Toke thought she was going to die.
Denola said he suspected he was ill, but when the doctor told him he had COVID, a lot of questions started going through his head.
Lawal said that he was terrified and couldn’t comprehend the fact that he had CoVID-19, while
Niyola wondered, how she contracted the virus.
How they treated COVID-19?
Ogunbanjo: I started treatment at home before going to a private hospital in Ikoyi [an affluent part of Lagos] and went into a coma as soon as I arrived. The doctor told me later that I had the kind of [COVID-19] case people do not recover from.
I was in that coma for eight days. My heart and liver were failing; and my pancreas was not producing insulin. On June 13, 2020 — three days after I woke up from the coma — I died for two hours and the fact that I am still alive and able to talk about this is nothing short of a miracle.
Grey: It was a couple of things — I had a lot of rest, drank a lot of water, took my vitamins, Zinc and also some expectorants before I had a bad cough. I was on antibiotics at first as well, as my immune system was already compromised.
There is no telling what exactly worked, but viruses tend to run their course so I just had to keep taking my supplements and boosting my immune system. I didn’t sleep with the AC on and slept on my chest for about two weeks.
Have there been after effects since they tested negative?
Ogunbanjo: I couldn’t bathe for the longest time and I had shortness of breath, fevers, brain fog, and memory lapses. Now, nine months later, I feel like I’m 95% better.
Odugbesan-Thomas: Yes, as of now I still have dizzy spells, fatigue, and body aches.
Makinwa: Tiredness is the only thing I’ve felt. I felt so useless at some point because I was always tired.
Grey: 100%. I tested negative on Dec. 12, 2020 and recently again because I’m back on set but I still have what I call “tired days” where the fatigue is literally so much that I can’t get out of bed.
I still get a weird feeling in my chest and after I lost my sense of smell and taste, it’s not yet back fully and I only have it about 70% back. I can taste some things but most things still taste bland.
Lawal: Yes, after I tested negative I was always feeling tired and dizzy for no reason. At first I started forgetting a lot of things and I wasn’t coordinated. It took me about two weeks after testing negative to get over the memory lapses — I kept mixing up my schedule and things like that.
Niyola: Sometimes, I would feel weird pains in my back and I also experience extreme fatigue.
Based on their experience, this is their message to Nigerians about COVID-19?
COVID-19 is not a conspiracy theory. It is real and it does not discriminate between young or old.
Some people will catch it and won’t even know, others will and they’ll write it off as a common cold, some will fall critically ill, and some will die.
The issue here is you don’t know how it’ll deal with you until you catch it. With the possibility of death, it’s not worth finding out. It might be easy on you but you might pass it across to someone who might get a worse deal so please obey all safety protocols and wear a face mask in public.
I really, really hope Nigerians take this virus as seriously as it is, I know it also took me contracting it and going through all that to actually be very vigilant.
But I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I went through. So please wear your mask, social distance, stay away from large gatherings, and stay home if you don’t have to be out.
PLEASE protect yourselves. The virus is still very much around. Always wear your mask at any public gatherings. Cultivate the habit of washing your hands.
People, we have a compromised health sector and we are also overpopulated in Nigeria — we can’t afford to let this thing get out of control. Please wear your masks, sanitise, and wash your hands. If not for yourself, do it for the people around you, especially our older population and people that have underlying conditions as well.
There is no telling how this virus works in different human beings — you might be lucky enough to be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, but you might also have symptoms that are really brutal. It’s just better to not get it than to battle it, so let’s keep safe.
Plus, if you’ve had it before immunity only lasts about three months so don’t think you are safe either. So yeah, stay safe, guys.
COVID-19 is real. Please wear your face masks and wash your hands with soap. Do not go out if it’s not important, and try as much as possible to observe physical distancing. And just know that this virus can actually kill and it is killing a lot of people.
Niyola: COVID-19 is real! Nigerians, take precaution by wearing a mask in public and maintaining good hygiene. Wash your hands regularly too.