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COVID-19: Chinese team due in Nigeria despite hostility

Nigerian doctors, lawmakers oppose government's invitation to medical experts from 'hotbed of plague'

COVID-19: Chinese team due in Nigeria despite hostility


A team of Chinese medical experts will arrive in Nigeria on Wednesday for a month-long visit to help in the country’s fight against the coronavirus, local media reported.

The invitation to the Chinese experts is opposed by local doctors, with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) terming it “ill-timed” and raising concerns over the impact of a similar team that visited Italy.

According to local newspaper Punch, the Chinese team includes experts in infectious diseases, intensive care, respiratory illness, cardiology, general surgery, neurology, and anesthesiology.

The group, which will land in the capital Abuja, will bring medicines and equipment, including test kits, ventilators, disinfectants, and protective face masks.

“The primary purpose of the team is to provide China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) employees with critical and necessary healthcare,” the Punch report quoted CCECC Executive Director Jacques Liao as saying.

He said the team, under the directives of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria and as a response to the Nigerian government’s request, may also share with Nigerian doctors effective methods to treat the disease and stem the virus’ spread.

Liao said all members of the Chinese team have tested negative for the virus but will still spend 14 days in quarantine in Nigeria.

- Fears and objections

Apart from the NMA, the Minority Caucus of Nigeria’s House of Representatives has also opposed the visit of the Chinese experts.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the lawmakers said inviting people from “the hotbed of the plague” could worsen the coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria.

"The lawmakers note … express fears that bringing in Chinese medical personnel, whose status, intentions and scope cannot be easily ascertained and controlled is totally against our national interest," read the statement published by Punch.

“The caucus notes that this is particularly after alleged escalation of the pandemic in certain countries after Chinese doctors were reportedly involved, in addition to widespread trepidations over the safety of medical equipment and kits from China at this point.”

Nigeria has 254 coronavirus cases, 44 recoveries, and six deaths so far, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

It is still better off than several countries in Africa, where the total number of cases is now over 10,000 and the death toll is almost 500.

More than 1.43 million cases have been reported in at least 184 countries and regions since the virus emerged in China last December, according to the Johns Hopkins data.

The global death toll is now above 82,200, while more than 301,700 people have recovered.

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