A 25-year-old college student in Michigan died from the coronavirus just weeks before he was set to graduate — and after being refused a test several times, according to reports.
Bassey Offiong, a senior majoring in chemical engineering at Western Michigan University, had no known prior health issues before succumbing to COVID-19 on Saturday, WXYZ reports.
School and county officials confirmed the Detroit native’s death Sunday, days after the university reported its first of three confirmed coronavirus cases.
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, his sister told the Detroit News.
“I told him to ask them to test him,” Asari Offiong told the newspaper. “He said they refused to test him.”
Offiong’s sister declined to identify the locations where her brother said he was denied coronavirus testing, but said 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.”
Offiong had “enormous potential,” according to a statement released by the university’s president.
“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,” WMU president Edward Montgomery said.
Health officials also confirmed Offiong’s death, but noted he was not a resident of Kalamazoo County, the Detroit Free Press reports.
“However, this virus has no borders when it comes to who it affects and how it is spread,” a health officer at the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department told the newspaper.
“We urge everyone to help us fight community spread by following the governor’s executive order. Stay home and, if you must go out for essential items, stay safe by taking preventative measures.”
It’s unclear whether Offiong was one of the three WMU students who tested positive Friday for coronavirus. The university has been holding online classes only since being closed for in-class instruction due to the growing pandemic, the Free Press reports.
A message seeking comment from a university spokesperson was not immediately returned Monday.