A 25-year-old college student in Michigan has died from the deadly coronavirus. Bassey Offiong died from the contagion just weeks from graduating from Western Michigan University with a degree in chemical engineering.
Offiong had no known prior health conditions before yielding to the deadly virus Saturday. School and county officials confirmed his death Sunday, days after the university reported its first of three confirmed coronavirus cases, WXYZ reports.
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of our students, Bassey Offiong,” WMU President Edward Montgomery said. Offiong, Montgomery said, “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,” he added.
Offiong was turned down several times for the coronavirus test in the Kalamazoo area while living off-campus despite having fever, fatigue, and shortness of breath, his sister said.
“I told him to ask them to test him,” Asari told The Detroit News. “He said they refused to test him.” According to her, one medical staffer told him he had bronchitis.
Offiong was hospitalized at Beaumont in Royal Oak and spent the last week on a ventilator in their intensive care unit. “I know God has him in his presence,” Asari said. “He loved God.”
The Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department in a statement commiserating with Offiong’s family stated: “We are truly saddened to learn of the death of a Western Michigan University student due to COVID-19.”
It added: “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.”
Offiong’s death comes after the university first reported three positive cases of coronavirus heading into the weekend.
The state has about 5,468 diagnosed cases of the respiratory plague, which has killed 132 Michiganians by latest count Sunday. Nearly half of the patients are from Wayne County, including 1,542 Detroiters.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services lists 836 new patients in the past day and 21 more fatalities.
The deadly virus has infected more than 787,000 people and killed over 37,000 worldwide, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.
The United States has the most confirmed cases globally at over 160,700. More than 3,000 people have died in the US — over 1,200 in New York State.