Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Over two weeks since 15 Chinese medical personnel arrived in the country, it is not clear when they will begin the assignment that brought them to the country.
This much was revealed by Sunday Sun’s inquiry, even as the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Nigeria does not have full details of the beginning and end of the experts schedule in the country.
Last week, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 disclosed at its briefing in Abuja that the medics have completed their 14-day isolation and returned negative, after which no more information was released about the 15-man medical delegation.
The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian, had after a meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, over the maltreatment of Nigerians in China, explained the mandate of the medical personnel.
The former Deputy Director-General of the Department of African Affairs, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the medical personnel were in Nigeria to deliver medical supplies and to play advisory role to their Nigerian counterparts battling COVID-19 in the country.
Prior to their arrival in the country, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) had in a statement said: “The primary purpose of the technical team is to provide CCECC employees with critical and necessary healthcare assistance. They are also coming with adequate PPE and medical items for the employees. In addition, under the directive of Chinese Embassy and in response to the Nigerian Government’s request, the technical team may also share with the Nigerian medical teams effective methods on how to contain the COVID-19 and provide advice on the use of relevant equipment.”
The experts, it would be recalled, are in the country on the invitation of CCECC, a subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
A Sunday Sun source who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity. prior to the disclosure of the COVID-19 result of the experts, said that the result of the COVID-19 test which was carried out on the medical personnel, was delaying their work.
Asked about the plan by both sides that the medical experts would be interacting with their Nigerian medical personnel counterparts during the quarantine period through virtual conference, an official swiftly said that he could not provide answers to that.
The 15-member technical team from CRCC, 12 of whom are experienced medical professionals with expertise in infectious disease, respiratory illness, intensive care, cardiology, neurology, general surgery and anesthesiology, arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on April 8, 2020, to assist the Nigerian Government in the fight against the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Upon their arrival in the country, the medical personnel delivered amongst others, 16-tons of test kits, ventilators, disinfection machine, disposable medical masks, medicines, rubber gloves, protective gowns, goggles, face shields, infrared thermometers and other medical care items.
CCECC also disclosed that all members of the technical team tested negative to COVID-19 and were commencing their stay in Nigeria by undertaking 14 days quarantine.
However, an official of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Nigeria who responded to Sunday Sun’s inquiry, said: “The Embassy is not involved, however, we have always been supportive of Chinese companies› fulfilling their social responsibilities in Nigeria, and appreciate their collaboration with their Nigerian brothers and sisters. According to media report, we noticed that they have finished their quarantine period in a cooperative manner, fully respect and strictly follow the local epidemic-containing measure.
“From media reports, we are also aware that the Nigerian Ministry of Health has organized a virtual meeting with them via video conference call and both sides have exchanged their COVID-19 fighting experiences, the result of which we believe should be mutually beneficial. Besides, we are not aware of any local medical staff training taking place.
“Also, I heard they had some guiding sessions with the company staff on how to effectively follow the NCDC guidelines on self protection during this trying time, like how to wear a mask in the right way, social distancing, etc.”