Average Nigerians do not think they stand a chance to fight COVID-19 since they will likely be killed by the virus before they get access to testing. This fear is deeply rooted because while the average person has to wait to show symptoms before getting tested, the elites already get their results.
It is like Animal Farm – all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. The public can manage the idea that a top government official like the President or Abba Kyari, Nigeria’s Chief of Staff can get tested without showing symptoms because someone has to run the country.
However, they have begun to feel like second class citizens as it is clear that the rich have found ways to hijack testing kits before the poor have a chance.
Since there are insufficient testing kits, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has clear guidelines on who can get tested.
It wrote on a recent circular, “Who can get tested for COVID-19? Anyone with travel history outside Nigeria, who presents with fever, cough or breathing difficulties within 14 days of arrival.
“Anyone who is a contact of a confirmed case and presents with symptoms within 14 days,” the NCDC said.
It is crystal clear that showing symptoms guarantees one’s chance of taking the test or at least, that is what the poor and average Nigerians are told.
In fact, it was exactly what the attendant at the Abuja testing centre told Jennifer Ogbonna, an architect who had contact with a UK-returnee client and thought to get tested. She was turned back and told to wait until she has visible symptoms.
Ogbonna told HumAngle, “I understand that there are not enough testing kits and when I was told to go and come back in 14 days, I accepted.
“But when you read the news and see all these rich and connected people getting tested without symptoms, it makes you feel like you don’t matter.
“Say I get the virus, will I be given priority treatment as a normal citizen, given the inadequate facilities? It bothers me and I still think about it,” she said.
HumAngle gathered that this preferential testing of the wealthy has also contributed to the poor dubbing COVID-19 a “rich man’s ailment.” Hence, they are very reluctant to take preventive measures adding to the already intense risk.
Still, it does not stop them from wondering – who do I need to know to get tested? Will my own government put me first above the powerful families or at least treat me the same?
Comedian and skit maker, Sydney Talker feels abandoned. He had earlier called the NCDC to get tested but was told he needed to wait for the 14 days isolation period.
On Friday, NCDC debunked the viral video of Talker informing them of his critical condition and labelled it a skit. According to the official twitter handle, they reached out to the individual who had said it was a skit.
Talker immediately refuted the claim that he was well. He wrote, “All I want is to get tested as the symptoms get worse by the day.”
He joins other Nigerians who lay afraid in their homes, solemnly counting the 14-days incubation period while the elites get tested without symptoms.
The recent announcement by Nigerian hip-hop superstar, David Adeleke aka Davido, does not help matters. The musician, son of billionaire Adedeji Adeleke, announced on social media that his fiancé, Chioma, had contracted the virus.
While the prayers and love poured in, some Nigerians stepped back to reexamine their message and what it meant for everyday Nigerians.
Perhaps it was too much information, but Davido revealed that he got tests for 32 people, including himself, Chioma, his baby and his large crew members all of whom showed no symptoms.
All of these go against the NCDC guidelines for getting tested. Maybe some animals are more equal than others hence the confidence to reveal the information, just like every other privileged person before him has.
He wrote, “Hey everyone! I came back recently from America after cancelling a tour. My fiancé Chioma also came back from London recently with our baby.
“We had no symptoms and still both feel perfectly fine but because of our recent travel history we decided to take ourselves,” Davido said.
Hey everyone ! I came back recently from America after cancelling tour. My fiancé Chioma also came back from London recently with our baby. We had no symptoms and still both feel perfectly fine but because of our recent travel history we decided to take ourselves and our all 1/2
— Davido (@davido) March 27, 2020
He added that Chioma is yet to show any symptoms despite the fact that her test came back positive. It raised questions as to the number of people who have the virus but are asymptomatic and still cannot access testing.
The procedure, they have been told, is to wait 14 days for the virus to incubate. With the low trust level people have for the government, how does knowing that they do not have equal rights to testing make them feel?
On social media, particularly Twitter, Nigerians are asking questions with some blaming poverty for leaving them susceptible.
A Twitter user, Imoteda wrote, “All I read was that Davido was able to access 34 tests.” Others agreed that the teens caught their eyes and expressed their fears.
Another user, @Bolanle_aa said, “It’s mad that the rich people that are being reckless and spreading the virus are the ones that get preferential treatment.”
Nigeria is currently under-testing considering that these elites, who now have unbridled access to testing, carelessly refused to self-isolate after their foreign trips thereby putting others at risk.
With just a little over 200 tests, the country has recorded 81 cases. 11 more cases were uncovered on Friday. Currently, the virus is in Abuja and nine other states out of the 36 states in Nigeria. How will NCDC level the field?