After what seems like an eternity comes the test

Covid-19 test

What you need to know:

  • Having hit another dead end and frustrated, we set off for our next lead.
  • The health worker painfully probes my nostrils, muttering something about my septum being small.

The only valid results are those carried out by government-run hospitals and centres

After a tedious and impossibly hot Friday spent frantically looking for a centre that tests for Covid-19 without success, I spend the weekend indoors. Everyone in the repatriation WhatsApp group is tirelessly searching for a testing centre. None of us is tested over the weekend.

Since everyone has leads to contacts, we agree to spread the word should any of us succeed in finding such a station.


Meanwhile, our representatives are to inform national carrier Kenya Airways of the challenges we face in our search for a coronavirus testing centre.

The only results recognised are those carried out by government-run centres. Unfortunately, the clinics and hospitals have limited resources. They only test symptomatic patients referred to them.

I spend the weekend daydreaming about my trip home.

Come Monday and Lanre — God bless him — picks me up from the hotel at 8am. We set off for the centre we had been referred to on Friday.

Fortunately, the trip is against traffic, so it does not take long to get there. I’m optimistic since the day has begun very well.  On getting there, the guard informs us that the centre has since been closed.

It turns out that it was a tented makeshift station set up in a church compound. It closed the previous week and the security man has no idea where it was moved.

Having hit another dead end and frustrated, we set off for our next lead.

On the WhatsApp group, we had agreed to meet up at what would be our third option, if we were not successful with the second one.


The jam is not heavy and we get there around 9am. There are three other people waiting outside.

We are instructed to wait. The wait, the guard at the parking lot informs us, will be long since testing begins at noon.

With few options to fall on, we decide to be patient. Someone comes out around 10am to get our details.

After questioning me for less than a minute, he says I do not qualify for the test because I’m not symptomatic. Neither am I a referral case.

I plead my case, explaining the urgency of the situation. He must have seen my despair and anguish because he agrees to make an exception.

I’m beyond elated, giddy with relief.

I excitedly inform others in the WhatsApp group about the breakthrough. I also learn that the 11 who gave another centre a try have got tested after pleas. Things are indeed looking up. People continue trickling to the centre. I’ve not seen any who looks Kenyan, though.

At 11.30am, we are informed that the testing is about to start. The man says collecting specimen from our noses and throats will take two minutes per person and that results will be ready in 48 hours.

An hour later, a crowd of about 50 is waiting to get tested. I begin to get uncomfortable and apprehensive. Ironically, I’m now not looking forward to my turn, which soon comes.

The health worker painfully probes my nostrils, muttering something about my septum being small. After what seems like an eternity, she’s done.


My eyes are teary and nose is bleeding. It feels like she probed my brain. I cannot believe that I will have to go through that hugely uncomfortable process when I get home.

It is emotionally and physically draining, though the ones before me seem to be coping surprisingly well.

After a few minutes of hopelessly trying to compose myself, Lanre and I set off for Ikeja City Mall where I intend to buy a comfort meal.

As expected, traffic this way is painfully slow and we end up getting there at 3pm — two hours later.

After buying the meal, we leave for my hotel amid the scorching afternoon heat.

My head is pounding, a result of the draining heat and the test I had been looking forward to. After attempting to eat without success, I drift off to sleep.

Ms Ndinda is Research Manager, Transform Research Africa Ltd. She is stranded in Nigeria, where she has been since March 21.

TOMORROW: Now that I have had the test that Kenya Airways listed as one of the conditions for repatriation, all I await is the result, which will be ready in two days.