As part of measures to ensure no new case of coronavirus (COVID-19) is imported into the country, the federal government has said all Chinese medical experts expected to arrive Nigeria will undergo a test for the dreaded ailment.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said this while responding to questions at the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja, on Tuesday.
Mr Ehanire had earlier announced that an 18-member team of Chinese medical experts will be coming into Nigeria to support the country’s fight against Covid-19.
Though some Nigerians have kicked against this move, the government said the experts will be sharing their experience after making progress in the fight against Covid-19.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) described the move as “a thing of embarrassment to the membership of the Association and other health workers who are giving their best in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic under deplorable working conditions.”
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) also advised the federal government against the plan, saying it was unnecessary to invite Chinese doctors as Nigeria was already handling the crisis effectively.
Nigeria currently has 232 cases of Covid-19 of which 33 have recovered and five deaths.
Mr Ehanire said the Chinese medical experts will be subjected to already established rules on curbing the spread of Covid-19.
“The Chinese experts or anybody coming into the country at all will have to be subjected to the rules and regulations we have set down.
“This is for the interest of protecting our people. Even if we assume they have done a test in their country, we still have to a confirmative test here,” he said.
Mr Ehanire said the medical experts are arriving in Nigeria “with some globally scarce medical supplies.”
He said the experts, comprising doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and public health managers will stay behind in the country to share their knowledge with Nigerian personnel.
“On Friday, 3rd of April 2020, I announced, that an 18-man team of Chinese medical experts is expected to arrive Nigeria in a few days with a consignment of globally scarce medical supplies, to augment government efforts and build capacity to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The donation by the Chinese Companies in Nigeria, includes PPEs (personal protective equipment), medical consumables, over one million surgical masks for health workers and even ICU ventilators, valued at over $100,000, all sourced in the face of global scarcity of these items.
“In addition, Chinese medical experts, comprising doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and public health managers will share their knowledge, skills and real-life experiences of fighting Covid-19 with Nigerian personnel to strengthening management of COVID-19 cases, especially with regard to critical care,” he said.
He also said the initiative “will greatly build the capacity of hard-working and resourceful Nigerian healthcare workers at the forefront of fighting coronavirus.”
‘Doctors not accredited to practice’
Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF) Boss Mustapha, aaid the Chinese doctors are not accredited to practice in Nigeria.
He also said “all countries of the world seek for and receive help in the fight against COVID-19.”
“The Chinese doctors are not accredited by the Nigeria Medical Association so they cannot practice in Nigeria. So I don’t see where the fear is.
“They cannot manage our patients. They are only saying that we have gone through this experience. Would you allow us share our experiences on how we were able to deal with our own.
”They have become experts in that field because it started with them. No other person can give you better information of the management of COVID-19 better than the Chinese,” he said.
He appealed to Nigerian 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 said.