- Their visit has been trailed by inconsistencies –NARD president
The Chinese experts who arrived Nigeria in early April were brought in primarily to assist the staff of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) to avoid the COVID- 19 infection, the company said in a statement yesterday.
CCECC, a Chinese construction firm that has a hand in some of the largest infrastructure projects in the country, said the experts underwent a14-day quarantine on arrival into the country and were tested for the virus.
“The medical personnel, including infectious disease experts, were brought to Nigeria primarily to assist CCECC in preventing COVID-19 outbreak among its staff and providing expertise on COVID-19 management should the need arise,” the CCECC statement, posted on its Twitter page, read.
In addition to helping CCECC manage the pandemic, the experts also provided technical support to the Nigerian government in the installation of equipment at Thisday Dome, a 300-bed isolation centre.
“Upon invitation from the Federal Ministry of Health, the team has held a teleconference with the Ministry’s representatives and Nigerian medical experts in experience sharing sessions,” CCECC said. The company confirmed the recent comments of the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, on the whereabouts of the Chinese experts.
“The medical personnel are in Nigeria at the instance of CCECC Nigeria and they have been, at all times, under the care and accommodation of CCECC,” the statement said. “During their stay in Nigeria, they have complied with all known immigration and health protocols.”
The Chinese experts have been a subject of controversy in Nigeria. Many say they are wary of the intentions of the Chinese, while others believe it unnecessarily plays up the incompetence of Nigerian health workers.
It is “a thing of embarrassment” to the country’s health workers, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) said in a statement just before the doctors arrived. In its statement on Friday, CCECC said none of the experts are involved in the treatment of COVID-19 cases during their time in the country. “In dealing with both the CCECC and the Nigerian health officials,” CCECC said, “the team only plays an advisory role.”
Their visit trailed by inconsistencies – NARD
Against the background of the controversies surrounding the continued stay of the Chinese doctors in the country, a medical expert has said the reason for their continued stay in the country did not sound reasonable.
The President of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr. Aliyu Sokomba, who made this known yesterday, said the last communication about them indicated that they had finished the installation they were doing, but were now domiciled at the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Limited and that and they were remaining there because of their inability to return to China due to ongoing lockdown.
However, speaking further, Sokomba said: “That doesn’t sound reasonable because it was during lockdown that they flew into the country. So, why should the lockdown prevent them from flying back to their country?”
On whether he was aware of the reason these Chinese doctors were in Nigeria, he said, “There has been several speculations on why they were in the country; some have speculated that they came in to provide healthcare service to some top Nigerians including the late Chief of Staff to the President, but all these are speculations as long as we do not have facts to back them up.” However, he said: “For us as healthcare professionals, as long as they do not provide care services for Nigerians without being licensed, we are less concerned about where they are, what they do and when they are going to return to China.
“After all, anybody is free to visit the country; it is not in our jurisdiction to censor who comes into the country and who doesn’t. Of priority to us is that they shouldn’t practice in Nigeria without license.” On whether umbrella associations of doctors have been interacting with these Chinese doctors, Sokomba said: “The last official correspondence we got was they weren’t coming in to provide medical services; they were coming to install the equipment the CCECC was donating to Nigeria.
“Hence there was no basis of engaging them as professionals since they were not coming into the country in that capacity.” However, when probed further on what could be the real reason the Chinese doctors visited Nigeria, he said: “I don’t know the real reason why they are here but if what we are told is anything to go by during the last correspondence from the Minister of Health and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) Committee, is that they are here to make donations and to install the equipment they have brought into the country.
“That is the last we heard about them: they have installed the equipment and we are awaiting their departure when the lockdown is over.” Responding to how many of them were doctors and how many were nurses, Sokomba said: “That’s not of concern to us. “We will consider them as doctors and nurses after they we are certified as such by the various supervising and regulatory councils we have in Nigeria. So far they have not been certified; we do not recognise them as such.”
It will be recalled that the visit of the Chinese doctors was later changed to Chinese experts when the medical community became very critical on the role they were in Nigeria to carry out and their visit has remained controversial. Sokomba said unfortunately the people handling it have not come clean with regards to their visit to the country. Initially we were told they were coming to the country to provide medical care.
“Immediately, we protested that they were coming into the country without the requisite license and approval to practice in the country, we got information that they were experts from China who were coming in to donate some personal protective wares and ventilators and that they were coming to install those equipment in Nigeria. “At that point we felt that we had no issues with their presence, after all, they were coming to make donations; the medical community had no objection to people coming to make donation and coming with expatriates to install these equipment in the country.
“Subsequently we were told that they were experts with various skills coming to provide services for the CCECC. At that point we cautioned them that whatever they were coming to do they should be aware that if they were going to be practicing medicine in this country they should be aware that they need licensing.”
NCDC validates viral RNA extraction
The country has blazed a trail in Africa with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) successfully validating the first phase of the viral Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) extraction which should enable local production of cheap testing kits for coronavirus. The validation took place on Thursday in the laboratory of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in Abuja, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). The Director General of NABDA, Prof. Alex Akpa, said after the exercise that the success of the validation was important not only to Nigeria but Africa as a whole. “The success of this validation shall enable us to massively produce test kits so that more people would be tested for COVID-19, not only in Nigeria but in Africa. “The immediate aim is to produce reagents for real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and remember, recently the lack of reagents stalled work in Kano and molecular diagnosis could no longer take place,” Akpa said. He also recalled that the absence of the same reagent equally stalled COVID-19 diagnosis in Lagos for many days. “This project is, therefore, designed to enable not only Nigeria but the whole of Africa to put the issue of shortage of reagents behind,’’ the director general said. Buhari, APC lack capacity to manage spread -PDP The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the All Progressives Congress (APC) – led Federal Government lacked the capacity to manage the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country. The party said this informed the call by the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, on state governments to now take ownership of the response. PDP in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “Nigerians can recall how our party and other well-meaning Nigerians repeatedly counseled the presidency to involve state governors, the private sector and critical stakeholders for an effective multi-sectoral and multilayered approach, to no avail.”
Suspected case records negative
in C’River A nurse with the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), has reportedly died, showing symptoms of the coronavirus, just four days after the ministerial task force on COVID-19 visited the state and commended the governor for keeping the virus out of the state. The nurse, whose identity was shielded to avoid stigmatisation, presented with symptoms of COVID-19 on Thursday in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) ward. Sample results later proved negative last night. Doctors allegedly attended to her but after a review, it was decided that the nurse be taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Sources at the hospital said she was cared for at the ICU by an Anesthetist and a nurse while other doctors and nurses manned Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit as well as the main theatre and the ICU, all coming in contact with the sick nurse.
The source, who pleaded anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case, said all the doctors and nurses who came in contact with the nurse did not wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), probably assuming that there was no COVID-19 case in the state. The source said: “After getting in direct contact with this nurse (patient), without using the right PPE because they may have assumed that COVID- 19 is not in Calabar, the patient died last night. “All the ICU nurses and anesthetists that cared for her are being quarantined.
All the nurses that paid her a visit are also being quarantined.” When contacted, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, said she was aware of the case and that samples have been sent to Specialist Hospital, Irrua in Edo State, saying the result was negative.
NMA decries increasing deaths in C’River
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Cross River State chapter has raised an alarm over increasing deaths from suspected cases of COVID- 19 in the state. A statement issued in Calabar yesterday and signed by the state chairman of the association, Dr. Agam Ayuk, and Secretary, Dr. Ezoke Epoke, decried the low level of testing in the state which has exposed health workers to the risk of contracting the disease.
The statement reads thus: “The unacceptable low number of persons tested in Cross River suggests a lack of diligent, expansive and coordinated surveillance response which is the hallmark for effective prevention and containment of COVID-19.”
Bakers, caterers back Edo govt on pandemic
The Edo State chapter of the Association of Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, has thrown its weight behind Edo State Government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the donation of 3,100 super loaves of bread to the state’s food bank. Chairman of the association, Mr. Benjamin Agbonze, while presenting the loaves to the state government at the Government House, Benin City, commended the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration for its forthright and data-driven approach to curtailing the spread of the virus. He said: “We acknowledge the tremendous efforts of the state government in the fight against the pandemic. The manner the government is handling the issue of COVID-19 pandemic shows that the governor is bestowed with wisdom to lead us. Other states are emulating Edo State in the fight against COVID-19, especially on not totally shutting down the state’s economy. This way, it became possible for us to contribute our quota to the efforts to contain the spread of the virus.”