• Team kept in isolation
Olufemi Atoyebi and Adelani Adepegba
The 14 Chinese doctors who arrived in Abuja on Wednesday are being quarantined at a compound in the Idu area of Abuja.
The facility is owned by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation which facilitated their trip to Nigeria.
The isolation compound, it was gathered, was inspected and vetted by the Ministry of Health officials on Wednesday.
The medical personnel, who are experts in infectious diseases, respiratory illness, intensive care, cardiology, neurology, general surgery and anesthesiology, are expected to share their experiences on coronavirus with their Nigerian counterparts.
They would also attend to the CCECC workers at the end of their 14-day quarantine.
Various professional groups, including the Nigerian Medical Association, had opposed the team’s visit, stating that the Chinese experts might worsen the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
But speaking to our correspondent on Thursday, the Executive Director, CCECC, Mr Jacques Liao, said the ministry of health officials had yet to interact with the doctors whom he said were ready for consultations through video conference while under quarantine.
Liao said, “Even now, they (Nigerian health officials) can have a video conference with them (Chinese team) without contacting them. They are going to be fully in self-isolation under the supervision of the Ministry of Health. The government has not contacted the team yet, but they can talk through video conference; we have installed teleconference facilities there already.”
“Some Nigerians are suspicious of the team, so I said there is no problem, they are free to monitor them. It was our compound and we have good security, of course.”
Liao cautioned against complacency in the fight against COVID-19, noting that the cases could spiral as could be seen in the United States, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, the NMA on Thursday alleged that the Chinese medical team had other motives that were different from what FG made Nigerians to believe.
In its latest statement, signed by the President, Dr Francis Faduyile, and the Secretary General, Dr Olumuyiwa Odusote, the NMA said the company responsible for the coming of the Chinese doctors had a concealed motive of employing them to treat Chinese nationals in the company, calling on relevant medical regulatory agencies in Nigeria to screen the profiles of the Chinese and their statuses.
The NMA said, “We are not against the receipt of donor support and equipment. We rather are against pulling the wool over our eyes going by the recent statement issued by the Managing Director of the Chinese donor firm operating in Nigeria that the medical personnel will be treating Chinese workers in their facilities.
“We are taken aback at this statement as this is at variance with the information supplied by the Minister of Health. We wish also to ask when medical expatriates started coming to sovereign states to treat their nationals? What happens to the Nigerians working in those facilities?
It also called on health workers to be wary of equipment coming from China.
“We call on all healthcare professionals to be wary of uncertified Personal Protective Equipment from China. We demand a thorough screening of the so-called medical team of experts by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and other relevant regulatory bodies to verify their status, as we call on the Federal Government to publish the names, designations/status, and qualifications of the so-called medical experts,” it added.
The association said after the FG neglected the health sector in Nigeria, health workers migrated abroad, leaving those behind to work ‘magic.’ It noted that it was aware of donation of two isolation centres by the company in Abuja, saying that the gift was not bigger than what Nigerians and indigenous corporate bodies had donated to the country.