Updated: February 25, 2021
A Nigerian-American student Bassey Offiong has died from the novel coronavirus in the state of Michigan, just weeks before he was set to graduate, and after he was refused a test several times. He was 25.
WXYZ reported Offiong, who had no prior health issues, succumbed to COVID-19 on Saturday. He was a senior majoring in chemical engineering at Western Michigan University.
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His sister told the Detroit News Offiong was rejected for coronavirus testing several times while living off-campus in the Kalamazoo area despite symptoms including shortness of breath, fatigue and a fever.
“I told him to ask them to test him,” Asari Offiong told the newspaper. “He said they refused to test him.”
Offiong’s sister did not identify the locations where her brother said he was denied coronavirus testing, but added that one medical staffer thought he had bronchitis. He died after spending a week on a ventilator at a hospital in Royal Oak, his sister said.
“I know God has him in his presence,” Asari Offiong told the newspaper. “He loved God.”
The Detroit Free Press quoted health officials as confirming Offiong’s death, but said he was not a resident of Kalamazoo County.
“We are truly saddened to learn of the death of a Western Michigan University student due to COVID-19,” the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department said in a statement.
“Our thoughts are with the student’s family and WMU as they grieve the loss of a loved one. We know this student was not a Kalamazoo County resident; however, this virus has no borders when it comes to who it affects and how it is spread… Stay home and, if you must go out for essential items, stay safe by taking preventative measures.”
In a tribute to him, President of Western Michigan University Edward Montgomery said in a statement: “I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of our students, Bassey Offiong”.
“Bassey was a young man of enormous potential… On behalf of the entire Bronco community, I want to extend my deepest condolences to his entire family, including his sister Asari, who has been generous in communicating with us regularly. They are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
Bassey’s death came after the university first reported three positive cases of coronavirus.