Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila on Monday said that the Chinese medical personnel coming to Nigeria to assist in the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic must undergo the necessary checks as provided by Nigeria.
In a statement issued after a meeting with the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, Gbajabiamila, said the measure was for precautions and allay fears expressed by many Nigerians.
Gbajabiamila said the meeting was conveyed following widespread complaints that trailed the announcement of the coming of some Chinese medical personnel to assist Nigeria.
“It is incumbent on us, as lawmakers, to intervene, following the concerns of our constituents to understand the issues and get the right information to them.
“Our duty is to protect the Nigerian people, and every opportunity to increase our knowledge will not be thrown away.
“Having listened to you, what we are taking away from this meeting is that Nigeria needs this intervention from the Chinese, but you have to make it mandatory that they observe all the protocols laid down for the disease.
“As you explained that they won’t have direct contact with Nigerian patients, you have to make sure that they go through our official immigration laws, they have to get work permit waivers because they are coming here to work,’’ he said.
The speaker said that the doctors have to be quarantined for 14 days as stipulated by the protocol urging the ministers to keep educating Nigerians to avoid misconceptions.
Earlier, the Minister of Health, Ehanire, told the House leadership that Nigeria did not officially invite the Chinese team.
He explained that it was an offer arranged by a group of Chinese companies based in Nigeria as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) to Nigeria.
Ehanire said that being a novel disease that every country is trying to understand, Nigeria would benefit more from the gesture in tackling the disease are inadequate.
Also, the Minister of State for Health, Mamora, emphasized that the Chinese personnel are mainly experts in molecular laboratory testing.
“We have only two indigenous experts currently serving seven laboratory centres in the country.
“The Chinese doctors are expected to help in setting up molecular laboratories around the country as well as upgrade and reconfigure existing ones in the country,” he said.
He said that the Chinese medical personnel would not have direct contact with Nigerian patients but would only help to reconfigure the laboratories.
The minister for the state also said that the team train Nigerian experts on the management of the disease, operation of the equipment and upgraded laboratories.
Mamora regretted that there were few options available to Nigeria in the trying times than to accept the offer adding that the Chinese gesture has no financial implications to Nigeria.
“Case testing is the bulk of work because some people are asymptomatic, so we need faster and rapid test kits and processing; we are doing molecular testing that helps us know the viral load as well.
“We need to expand our testing labs across the country as presently, we have two lab scientists in molecular testing, serving seven labs across the country.
“As we are expanding across the country, we need more people to be trained in molecular testing for faster results,’’ Mamora said.