My COVID-19 Experience, By Atedo Peterside

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Apart from using my plight to serve as a lesson to others, my final reason for making this public is to help a few misguided persons who still prefer to stigmatise COVID-19. There is nothing to be ashamed about if you are the latest person to be caught by a pandemic.

There was an outbreak of COVID in my house as last weekend approached and so I told myself that I must do the correct thing. I immediately went into self-isolation (because I had been exposed) and started cancelling all the physical engagements that I had committed to attend over the course of the next few days.

One of the first casualties was a Future Leaders Network event billed for Saturday morning in Ikoyi, where I was supposed to be the keynote speaker. I contacted them and offered to deliver my address virtually instead. Dr Tony Rapu (medical doctor and pastor) was the intermediary for this engagement. He was the one who pressured me to commit to being the keynote speaker at this event that was organised by a bunch of highly responsible young men. Tony even held an emergency conference call between the young leaders, himself and myself to help “pacify” them after I cancelled my physical participation. They decided to postpone their event on account of my physical absence; they felt it was too late in the day to hurriedly arrange for my virtual participation instead.

I maintained my ground with all and sundry that it would be irresponsible for me to start going around Lagos, attending physical functions at a time when there had been an outbreak of COVID-19 in my house. I know a little bit about the Omicron variant and how highly transmissible it is. That I had no symptoms whatsoever was not the issue. The chances were that I could be at the incubation stage.

I still do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, but in a sense my positive test result was both a relief and a lesson. To all those who felt I was being too strict to the point of being ridiculous, I stand vindicated. I am relieved because some people argued with my stance and felt I was simply overzealous.

It would suffice to say that I cancelled all physical engagements in Lagos, including weddings, business meetings, etc. Then I got a phone call inviting me to Aso Rock on Wednesday to attend the launching of the new National Development Plan 2021-25 by Mr President, in my capacity as Co-Chairman (private sector) of the National Steering Committee that was set up to produce the Plan. Indeed, my Co-Chairman (public sector) called me also i.e. the Finance minister. I told her that I felt fine and had no symptoms, but that the correct thing to do (as per Nigeria Centre for Disease Control [NCDC] protocols) was that I must continue to self-isolate. In any case, my latest COVID-19 test had been taken on Monday morning by 54-Gene and the result was not yet out. The Finance minister accepted my logic and said she would explain my absence for health reasons and based on a strict adherence to the NCDC safety protocols. We even discussed how long the incubation period could stretch.

This morning (Tuesday) I woke up and saw an email that came in overnight containing my COVID-19 test result from Monday (yesterday) morning and it was POSITIVE.

I still do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, but in a sense my positive test result was both a relief and a lesson. To all those who felt I was being too strict to the point of being ridiculous, I stand vindicated. I am relieved because some people argued with my stance and felt I was simply overzealous. Now they know different.

I was well prepared in the sense of taking all the preventive measures, which the Nigerian government placed at my disposal. Perhaps the vaccines have helped to make me asymptomatic (so far) ? Are you as well prepared as I was? If you are not, what do you intend to do about it?

Apart from using my plight to serve as a lesson to others, my final reason for making this public is to help a few misguided persons who still prefer to stigmatise COVID-19. There is nothing to be ashamed about if you are the latest person to be caught by a pandemic.

Finally, please get your head around this: I had taken two doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine in early March and late May and I also took the Pfizer booster shot last week in Victoria Island and yet COVID-19 still knocked on my door. I was well prepared in the sense of taking all the preventive measures, which the Nigerian government placed at my disposal. Perhaps the vaccines have helped to make me asymptomatic (so far) ? Are you as well prepared as I was? If you are not, what do you intend to do about it?

Atedo N. A. Peterside (CON) is the President & Founder of Anap Foundation and the Founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC. Twitter: @AtedoPeterside

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