The federal government has described the criticisms trailing the invitation of Chinese doctors to join the fight against COVID-19 as unwarranted because they will only serve as public health specialists and medical engineers.
The government explained that the doctors are coming on the bill of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
The secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, made the clarification during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID -19 in Abuja, yesterday.
Mustapha said that the Chinese health officials would support Nigeria’s capacity to manage the pandemic on advisory basis.
The SGF, who is also the chairman of the PTF, therefore, appealed to Nigerian medical professionals to see the positive aspects of this gesture as an extension of the development in the field of medicine.
He said: “One major support that has attracted public commentaries is the offer by CCECC, a Chinese company to import about 256 equipment and items in different quantities, notable amongst which are, 1,300,000 medical masks, over 150,000 pieces of assorted personal protective equipment as well as 50 medical ventilators.
“The company has also proposed to sponsor public health experts to help strengthen our public health capacity and advise on processes and procedures.
“However, I wish to clarify that all countries of the world seek for and receive help in the fight against COVID-19. The support coming from China is a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative by CCECC, a company with total value of infrastructure contracts worth $10 billion in Nigeria.
“The professionals that have been invited from China are public health specialists and medical engineers that will support Nigeria’s capacity in managing the pandemic on advisory basis when necessary, while drawing from the experience of the Chinese.
“In no way shall there be case management and interface with patients. They will train our manpower, advise on procedures and methods, install and test the equipment donated before handling them over.
“I therefore use this medium to appeal to our medical professionals to see the positive aspects of this gesture as an extension of development in the field of medicine.
“The PTF recognises and respects the competence and capability of Nigerian doctors and other medical personnel. This is a state of war against the coronavirus and time should not be devoted to unhelpful controversies,” he added.
He also reiterated the fact that the lockdown of the country is not punitive as it is meant to prevent the escalation of the spread, especially within communities.
Reps Give Conditions For Accepting Chinese Doctors
Meanwhile, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that the Chinese medical personnel would only be accepted by the lawmakers if they undergo the necessary checks as provided by the federal government.
After a meeting between the leadership of the House and the minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and the minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, Gbajiabiamila said that the demands were prompted by the need to take precautions and allay fears expressed by Nigerians.
However, the two ministers assured him that the Chinese doctors would not have personal contacts with Nigerian patients during their stay in the country.
The meeting was attended by the chief whip, Hon. Mohammed Tahir Monguno, the deputy leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason, and the deputy chief whip, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha.
Gbajabiamila said that the parley was conveyed because of widespread complaints that trailed the announcement of the coming of some Chinese medical personnel to Nigeria.
He said: ”There are a lot of complaints about why we are bringing in Chinese doctors. It is incumbent on us, as lawmakers, to intervene, following the concerns of our constituents to understand the issues and get the right information to them.
”Our duty is to protect the Nigerian people, and every opportunity to increase our knowledge, will not be thrown away. Having listened to you, what we are taking away from this meeting is that Nigeria needs this intervention from the Chinese, but you have to make it mandatory that they observe all the protocols laid down for the disease.
“As you explained that they won’t have direct contact with Nigerian patients, you have to make sure that they go through our official immigration laws; they have to get work permit waivers because they are coming here to work.
“Also, they have to be quarantined for 14 days as stipulated by the protocol, and you have to educate Nigerians about this to avoid misconceptions. We have laws and they must be complied with,” he stated.
Minister of Health, Ehanire, told the House leadership that the government did not officially invite the Chinese team, but that it was an offer arranged by a group of Chinese companies based in Nigeria as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) to Nigeria.
He said that being a novel disease that every country was trying to understand, Nigeria would benefit more from the gesture because the existing health facilities and personnel in the country to tackle the disease are inadequate.
House C’ttee Demands Isolation Centres For Fresh Prison Inmates
In another development, the House of Representatives Committee on Reformatory Institutions has urged the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS) to immediately establish an isolation centre to quarantine the new inmates under the supervision of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for a reasonable period before they can join other inmates.
The committee also urged stakeholders in the administration of justice sector to urgently conduct jail delivery on the correctional centres in their respective jurisdiction, with a view to directing the courts to relax bail conditions for non-capital offences.
This, according to the committee, will enable accused persons meet bail conditions and go home instead of compounding the congestion of the correctional centres with awaiting trial cases. On the alternative, the committee recommended non-custodial sentencing, as provided under the new Act.
The committee’s chairman, Hon. Anayo Edwin, in a statement he issued, yesterday, promised that the House would commence investigation over the alleged incident when plenary resumes.
95% Of 5,000 Samples Tested Negative – Minister
Also yesterday, Ehanire disclosed that over 5,000 samples have been tested so far, with 95 per cent of them showing negative.
He said with about 238 confirmed cases of COVID 19 in the country as at yesterday, it meant that over 95 per cent of the 5,000 tested samples were negative. Six additional cases were confirmed yesterday, bringing the number from 232 to 238.
The minister stated this at the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID 19, in Abuja.
Ehanire, said that ”over the weekend, we recorded 42 new cases, bringing to a total of 232, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria. They are in 14 states and the FCT as at today, 6th April, 2020, We have recorded five fatalities, all with underlying ailments.
”A total of 33 patients have been discharged from treatment. We have 120 patients in Lagos State, 47 in FCT, Osun 20, Oyo 9, Edo 9, Bauchi 6, Akwa Ibom 5, Kaduna 5, Ogun 4, Enugu 2, Ekiti 2, while Ondo, Rivers and Benue have one each,” he said.
Lagos Discharges Another 2 Patients, Ogun Confirms 2 New cases
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Monday said two more coronavirus patients have been discharged from the state’s Infectious Disease Centre in Yaba, after testing negative twice.
The governor, in a statement he issued, said that those discharged were two female patients, adding that the development brings the number of coronavirus patients discharged from the facility to 31.
The Ogun State government has said that it had recorded two fresh cases of coronavirus in the state.
Governor Dapo Abiodun disclosed this to journalists yesterday evening at his private residence in Iperu Remo, Ikenne local government area.
He said that the two new patients had no travel history, adding that the number brings the total cases in Ogun to six of which three have been discharged after testing negative twice.