Chinese medical team stranded in Nigeria

The Chinese medical team which arrived on April 8 has been unable to leave the country following the unavailability of commercial flights to Beijing, the capital of China.

It was gathered that the personnel had concluded their assignment, which included assisting with the installation of some equipment and sharing COVID-19 experience with the Federal Government.

The 15-man team, which include experts in infectious diseases, respiratory illness, intensive care, cardiology, neurology, general surgery, anesthesiology and a journalist, had come to the country on the invitation of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

The Executive Director, CCECC, Mr Jacques Liao, disclosed to our correspondent in Abuja on Monday, that the team had been unable to leave the country because there were no commercial flights.
He explained that the medical experts were still at the Idu area of Abuja where they were accommodated.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, had said during a briefing by Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 that he did not know the whereabouts of the Chinese visitors, stressing that they were not guests of the Federal Government but that of the construction company.
But shedding light on the situation, Liao stated that the personnel were supposed to spend one month in the country, adding that they were issued three-month visas.
 He said, “They (Chinese medical team) are waiting for their flight and this depends on when the airspace would be opened. You know, they came by a charter flight because of the personal protective equipment and other medical materials they brought, but they can’t go back by charter flight, so they are waiting for regular commercial flights.
“They are still here (in Abuja) and they would still assist the Ministry of Health anytime they require their assistance.

The PUNCH had reported the opposition to the Chinese team’s visit by the Nigeria Medical Association and other medical professionals who argued that the foreigners’ assistance was not required to curb the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
But the  company’s Managing Director, China Civil Engineering Construction Company Nigeria Limited, Michael Jiang Yigao, on Monday said the 15-man Chinese medical team who arrived Nigeria on April 8, 2020, were with the global construction firm.
He disclosed this in response to questions about the whereabouts of the medical team, following the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire’s comment that the experts were not his guests but CCECC’s.

Ehanire had also urged reporters not bother his ministry over the whereabouts of the Chinese medical experts who came into Nigeria to support the fight against COVID-19.
Speaking in Abuja on Monday, Yigao said the team was in Nigeria to share their experiences in fighting the COVID-19.

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