Nigeria COVID-19 survivor: ‘An experience I don’t wish on anyone’
Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi wants to advocate for an end to stigmatisation and demystify myths around COVID-19. For Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi, the symptoms began shortly after she returned from a trip to London. The 29-year-old Nigerian activist was in the United Kingdom capital to attend on March 9 the Commonwealth Day Service, where she was the official flag bearer. But after arriving in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, she fell ill and decided to get tested for COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The test came back positive and Osowobi was taken to a specialised facility to receive medical care. She remained at an isolation ward until last week, when she was discharged following her recovery from COVID-19.
Osowobi, who runs the Stand to End Rape Initiative, a group advocating against sexual violence, spoke to Al Jazeera about contracting the new coronavirus, her experience at the isolation centre and what she plans to do now. The interview below has slightly been edited for brevity and clarity. By aljazeera.
How does it feel having recovered from the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?
It feels great to have survived COVID-19. If you see the data of people who have passed away due to the virus, they are alarming. I’m really grateful to be alive but also grateful for the experience as I am able to share with people that COVID-19 is not a hoax like many people may believe in Nigeria.
What symptoms did you have when you fell ill? How did it feel?
Osowobi: I had high fever, was coughing heavily and had loss of appetite. I had a lot of symptoms on the COVID-19 list so I knew I had to get tested just to be sure of what the situation was because I was feeling really sick and wasn’t getting better.
The virus kicked my system. It made me very weak. I was dizzy every second, I was throwing up. I lost my sense of taste but my sense of smell heightened so I could smell everything like water, food, even soaps. Everything was just disgusting to me. It was a very tough period, a very tough moment for me but I am happy I beat it.
It was an experience I don’t wish anyone to have.
What was running through your mind when you found out that your test was positive?
The first thing that came to my mind was, “Am I going to die?” I feared that am I going to be one of the people to be counted as dead. I was asking myself, “Is Nigeria ready to handle the situation? Is Lagos state capable to handle the situation as of now?”
I was just very scared.
What was the experience with the doctors and nurses at the treatment centre?
It was good. Despite a very shaky start, we were able to build a relationship as things went by. I was also able to see how much they were trying their best to provide top-notch service to everyone at the centre, including myself. I had one doctor’s number, so I would text him to tell him of my symptoms or call him if I was feeling a certain way.
When I was still vomiting, I would text him to say, “Help me, I don’t want to die.” Some of the nurses would come in and encourage me, say a word of prayer with me.
What kind of treatment were you given?
I was given a couple of medications to handle COVID-19 and also to handle the side effects of the medications. There was even a time the medication for my vomiting wasn’t working, so I had to be given injections to suppress the desire to vomit. I had to make a conscious decision not to vomit because I needed to retain the medicine inside my system. But the virus was throwing everything out. It was a battle I won at the end.
When did the things change?
I re-examined my survival chances when I started getting better by the day. The vomiting had stopped, the stooling had stopped, the dizziness was gradually getting less effective – so it was an indication I was getting well. I was really excited. It renewed my hope of surviving this. They were checking my temperature in the morning, afternoon and at night – and it was getting better. My blood pressure was getting better. My pulse was getting better. I got my sense of taste back. So, I began to re-evaluate my chances of survival that yes, I could beat this.
What message do you want to send to people who have not yet contracted the virus?
Please wash your hands, sanitise and, importantly, self-isolate.
I can tell you from a first-account experience that you should self-isolate; just stay at home as much as possible, practice social distancing so that you are not infecting other people should you have the virus and not even know it.
All the social gatherings are not really important. What’s important is your health and your body’s capacity to fight any infection or virus. For your body to fight the virus, you also need to equip it with the right diet and the right medication.
What do you intend to do with the experience gained following your recovery?
I hope to keep advocating for the end of stigmatisation because I’ve realised there is still a sort of stigma attached to the issue.
So I hope to use my platform to help to demystify myths around COVID-19 and those who test positive so that we can collectively as a global space support those who are fighting to live.
YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
Customs Closes Gate To Stop Oyo Govt From Returning 1,800 Bags Of Rice
The imbroglio between the Oyo State government and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) over the 1,800 bags of rice continued on Wednesday with the Oyo/Osun command closing its gate and refusing the state government access into its Ibadan premises to return the bags of rice… Read full story
Nigeria To Fully Repay N1.224trn IMF Loan By 2025
Nigeria is to fully repay the $3.4 billion (N1.224 trillion at N360/$1) International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan approved on Tuesday by 2025. This is as a finance expert, Professor Uche Uwaleke, warned that government’s decision to take the loan was unreasonable… Read full story
Covid-19: Osun Raises Alarm Over Influx Of Zamfara Youths Into State
Osun State government on Wednesday night raised the alarm over the influx of Zamfara youths into the state. The Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, Prince Adeyanju Abdullah Binuyo, who disclosed this in an interview, said the government was aware of the influx but urged the residents… Read full story
Herbal Solution To Combat Coronavirus Will Be Ready Soon, Says Ooni Of Ife
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, on Wednesday, said that the herbal solution to fight the coronavirus dpandemic is at the advanced stage with traditional medicine practitioners. The traditional ruler made this known in an interview with newsmen in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, shortly after donating two… Read full story
Vaccines: UK To Spend £330m Per Year On 75m Children In Poor Countries
The UK, on Wednesday, confirmed that it will be the largest supporter of the international alliance to vaccinate children against deadly diseases, saving millions of lives… Read full story
Runny Nose, Sneezing Unlikely Signs Of COVID-19
When Mrs Adene Haruna returned home from the office, she immediately decided on self-isolation because she had been with a colleague with a cold and who was feeling unwell a few days back that was later confirmed to have COVID-19… Read full story
Covid-19: Kano Govt Arrests Fleeing Patient, Trails Two Others
The Director Infection Control Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) and chairman, Risk Communication Committee on COVID-19, Professor Isah Abubakar has confirmed the arrest of one of the three patients who fled after testing positive for coronavirus in Kano State… Read full story
COVID-19: Governors To Establish Common Macroeconomic Assumptions For 2020 Budget Review
In response to the fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sub-national governments, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Secretariat on Wednesday unveiled plans to provide technical assistance to state governments to establish common macroeconomic assumptions that will help states prepare revised budgets for 2020… Read full story
Lagos Govt Suspends Okada Operations, Says Buses, Others To Carry 60% Of Passenger Capacity
Lagos State government on Wednesday introduced strict framework for movement and re-opening of businesses ahead of the Monday expiration of the lockdown imposed by the Federal Government on Lagos, Ogun states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)… Read full story
65 Fun Seekers Land In Police Net For Holding Birthday Party Inside Hotel In Lagos
Sixty five people who came to have a birthday party at a hotel in Lagos State on Wednesday have been arrested by men of the state police command. They were arrested while dancing and making merry at Park Hotel, 84, Augusto Close, Oko Oba in Lagos, as some of them, including women, were found with hard drugs… Read full story
Hope Rises For Akeugbagold’s Twins As Abductors Communicate With Family’s ‘Big Brother’
There is hope in the horizon for the release of the abducted twin of Ibadan-based Islamic cleric, Taofeek Akeugbagold, as the abductors have established line of communication with the family. Tribune Online gathered that the abductors are communicating not with the parents of the twins but with someone referred to… Read full story
EDITORIAL: Covid-19: Evacuating Nigerians Abroad
THE report that there are 300 Nigerians awaiting evacuation from the Guangzhou province of China is one which should make the blood of every patriotic Nigerian boil. According to the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), the Nigerians consisting of businesswomen and men are currently starving, having… Read full story
The Role Of Traditional Rulers – Sanusi The Genius: A Case Study (6)
IN rounding off my discussions on the paramountcy of traditional rulership in pre-colonial and post-independent Nigeria, I consider it expedient to reiterate the need to accord monarchs and traditional chiefs across Nigeria the much-needed constitutional recognition in the running of governmental affairs across the… Read full story