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‘No text, no test’ — Experiencing Oyo’s COVID-19 drive-through testing centre

‘No text, no test’ — Experiencing Oyo’s COVID-19 drive-through testing centre
April 20
06:06 2020
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It was 1:30 pm on Tuesday and the entrance to the Adamasingba Stadium looked normal and abnormal. After driving past gates six to two — which were all locked — TheCable arrived at gate 1. It was normal because, from the facade of the structure, nothing appeared to be happening. The aura was however abnormal for a facility that was supposed to be acting as a COVID-19 testing centre for 2,000 people daily.

On Tuesday, Seyi Makinde, the Oyo state governor, announced that the stadium would serve as a drive-through/walk-through center for mass testing of 2,000 people daily for the novel coronavirus.

According to him, the aim is to flatten the COVID-19 curve by testing 10,000 people in the state within two weeks.

“In the next few days after we increase testing, we will see for ourselves whether a complete lockdown is necessary. We plan to test 10,000 people in the shortest possible time. We are starting with the first 2,000 from today. I have been told we can complete this round in two weeks,” Makinde had said.

TEXT MESSAGE AS ENTRANCE TICKET

After a while, the gatekeeper with the white cap refused to talk to the reporter

But when TheCable arrived at the gate, the situation was far from a drive or walk-through. The gate was closed and when the reporter approached the gate on feet, an elderly man at the gate asked to know if the reporter got a text message.

Unaware of the requirement to tender a text message before getting tested, the reporter answered in the negative. The man, who appeared to be the security guard, dismissed him immediately.

“You need to have gotten a text message inviting you to get tested,” he said.

TheCable observed health workers clad in protective equipment seated just inside the gate. Canopies were set further inside the stadium. However, no activity in the form of COVID-19 testing was observed.

Two reporters attempted again to gain entrance into the facility, this time introducing themselves as journalists who wanted to experience and report the process. But the elderly man, who had a mask on, and clad in Ankara, again dismissed them.

“No, no, no,” he said, getting angry.

The reporters hung around for over an hour before they were asked to come back the following day by 12 noon. The gatekeeper refused to divulge any information on what exactly was going on inside the stadium.

Asked what it took to get the text message, he said he was unaware.

‘PROCESS IS A SCAM’

Picture taken from gate 5 — it shows where 2,000 people are expected to take the tests daily.

Seated outside the gate were five men who appeared to be shop owners in the complex. TheCable overhead one of the men telling the others that the testing process is not genuine.

“This thing is a scam,” he said.

Another man who spoke to TheCable claimed that anyone who wanted to get tested without the text message would have to pay a sum of N5,000.

“Do you have the text message? If you do, it’s free. If you don’t, you have to pay N5,000,” the middle-aged man told TheCable.

The reporters attempted to speak to the team conducting the tests but were not granted an audience. We, therefore, cannot verify this claim.

OVER AN HOUR AND NO TEST

When Molly Specialist Hospital arrived

TheCable spent over an hour monitoring the facility. During that time, no one visited the facility, either walking or driving through to get tested.

TheCable visited the stadium again on Friday and met the gate locked, this time with chain and padlock. The same security man denied the reporter access to the facility, saying they were on break.  He asked the reporter to come back in an hour.

An hour passed by and the man still refused to grant the reporter access to the facility. While waiting, a bus from Molly Specialist Hospital pulled up at the gate, with at least six persons on board. It was unclear why they were there but they were also not allowed to enter the stadium, up until the reporter left over an hour later.

At 1pm, when the break was supposed to be over, the reporter approached the gate again, and explained herself, but was denied entry again.

MAKINDE EXPLAINS TESTING CRITERIA

Makinde addressing journalists

Makinde explained via a tweet on Tuesday that four sets of people are advised to register with the state’s emergency operations centre so as to get tested.

“We invite the following categories of people who have not already done so, to register with the Emergency Operations Centre on 08095394000 / 08095863000 / 08078288999 / 08078288800, for the ongoing drive through/walk through testing at Adamasingba Stadium,” he wrote.

“People who believe they could have come into contact with a COVID-19 case in Oyo State; People who returned to Nigeria from abroad within the last one month and their contacts; People with respiratory symptoms and healthcare workers who have been in contact with the high-risk groups, above”.

NIGERIA’S POOR TESTING STATS

If Makinde’s drive-through lived up to what the governor said during his initial address, announcing the testing centre, Nigeria should have recorded over 10,000 tests as of Friday, April 17, 2020.

But latest data from Worldometers shows that Nigeria has tested only 7,153 people since COVID-19 broke out in the country seven weeks ago.

Nigeria has continued to be one of the worst performers on the globe as far as COVID-19 testing is concerned, and Makinde’s drive-through is not about to drive those numbers up — except the state enforces radical changes.

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