Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs, has narrated his experience as a COVID-19 patient at an isolation facility.
The minister, who announced his recovery from COVID-19 on Wednesday, urged Nigerians to treat the disease like other respiratory infections, as part of efforts to address stigmatisation.
He had announced on July 19 that he tested positive for COVID-19.
Speaking at the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja on Thursday, Onyeama said the three weeks he spent at the isolation centre made him proud to be a Nigerian because of the professionalism at the facility.
“Don’t feel it’s anything shameful to go to be tested or to have this disease or whatever. Just treat it like any other; it could be malaria, it could be flu. Just don’t feel that somehow it’s a stigma and you’re carrying something that would not be accepted and acceptable,” he said.
“The PTF is like a military high command before a battle, and it occurred to me that none of the military high command had been battle tested or had any taste of the war. So, maybe it was a good thing that at least now one of the team can speak from experience and not just from fear.
“It has been said that COVID-19 is very real, I used to have what I call the triple protection — my mask, my shield — it still didn’t stop that. So we just have to keep at it, you never know where it could come from.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the medical team where I was staying — where I was isolated. They’re really good and it made me feel very proud to be a Nigerian. Honestly, for those three weeks, I could not speak more highly of the dedication and the professionalism. The environment in which one was confined for three weeks was really the most agreeable and most pleasant, and I was saying that I could come back there for a short weekend vacation because it really was that good.”
He called on the ministry of health to recommend medication for treating symptoms of coronavirus, in order to address the issue of lack of accessibility to testing.
“I was discussing with the minister of health earlier today that maybe in the cases where people cannot be tested soon enough, we can recommend a cocktail of some medication because sometimes it’s a respiratory disease; it starts off with the upper respiratory area and what we don’t want is for it to move down to the lower respiratory area and it really helps to be on the medication early to stop that,” he added.
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