An exasperated minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, on Thursday, requested reporters not to bother his ministry over the whereabouts of Chinese medical experts who came into Nigeria to support the fight against COVID-19.
Mr Ehanire, while responding to questions at the daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, said the medical personnel “are not guests of the federal government but CCECC, a construction company”.
The 15-member team of Chinese medical personnel arrived in the country on April 8 “to share their experiences in fighting the COVID-19”.
Some Nigerians had kicked against the federal government’s decision to invite the medical experts, saying the country had enough doctors to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) also 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.”
Mr Ehanire, however, insisted then that the experts would be sharing their experience after making progress in the fight against the virus.
“The Chinese medics will be providing technical support to Nigeria in its fight against COVID-19, and also sharing experiential strategies of how their country curtailed the spread of the virus,” he said.
Where are they?
When asked by a reporter about the whereabouts of the invited Chinese, Mr Ehanire said he would be glad not to be asked about the whereabouts of the medical team.
“I want to explain that first of all, I think not all of them are doctors and I heard that some of them are technicians but they are staff of CCECC.
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”The ministry of health is not their host, so we cannot always explain what happened to them or where they are,” he said.
He also noted: “There seems to be a lot of interest in these doctors but they are staff of a company. I would be very happy if you do not ask me where they are.
“They are not really our guests in that sense but we have been able to learn some things from them. We shared ideas of what they did in their country in managing COVID-19.”