The Federal Government has slammed critics of an offer by a foreign company, Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company CCECC to import an 18-member Chinese team of medical experts including doctors, nurses and public health advisers to share experiences with their local counterparts on the management of the Novel Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.
Several stakeholders had berated the government for its decision to allow the Chinese team into the country, expressing fears that their coming could worsen the spread of the pandemic in Nigeria.
However, Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha said every country needs all the help it can get at this point, adding that even the “almighty United States of America USA” is seeking external help.
According to him, the Chinese will only offer their experiences and expertise as they are not accredited by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria to ply their trade in the country. He, however, said no country on earth has greater experience than China when it comes to managing the Covid-19.
He said; “One major support that has attracted public commentaries is the offer by CCECC, a Chinese company to import about 256 equipment and items in different quantities, notable amongst which are, 1,300,000 medical masks, over 150,000 pieces of assorted personal protective equipment as well as 50 medical ventilators. The company has also proposed, on its own, to sponsor public health experts to help strengthen our public health capacity and advise on processes and procedures.
“However, I wish to clarify that all Countries of the world are seeking assistance and are receiving help in the fight against COVID-19. Even the ‘almighty’ United States is looking for heal elsewhere. The support coming from China is a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative by CCECC, a company with a total value of infrastructure contracts worth over $10 billion in Nigeria. The professionals that have been invited from China are public health specialists and medical engineers that will support Nigeria’s capacity in managing the Pandemic on the advisory basis when necessary while drawing from the experience of the Chinese. In no way shall there be case management and interface with patients. They will train our manpower, advise on procedures and methods, install and test the equipment donated before handing them over.
“I, therefore, use this medium to appeal to our medical professionals to see the positive aspects of this gesture as an extension of development in the field of medicine. The PTF recognizes and respects the competence and capability of Nigerian Doctors and other medical personnel. This is a state of war against the coronavirus and time should not be devoted to unhelpful controversies” Mustapha added.
On the lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states, the SGF said reports from the Taskforce’s assessment still show substantial compliance in these places. According to him, the federal government is already meeting the objectives of the lockdown saying 35 per cent of infections is by returnees and 25 per cent by close contacts while the sources of 40 per cent of infections are currently unknown.
As a result of the 40 per cent infection whose sources are unknown, the PTF said soon, a new public advisory would be issued in that regard.
“We shall prepare a full assessment by the end of the week in order to advise Mr President on the next step to take before the expiration of the 14days lockdown”, he stated.
He also asked stakeholders not to contest test results issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control NCDC.
Vanguard recalls that the Akwa Ibom State Government had last week faulted the NCDC for announcing that five people in the state had tested positive for the Covid-19. The state had challenged the fidelity of the results, urging a second round of tests.
However, the SGF said; “Yesterday, Sunday, 5th April 2020, I held a video conference with the Governors on the platform of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. I want to seize this opportunity to reiterate my plea for co-operation, collaboration and openness in information and data sharing as well as containment and management efforts. Stringent efforts should be made not to stir unnecessary controversies on issues such as status of test results when such issues fall within the remit of the NCDC and other Public Health Experts”.
Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Iheakwazu on his part announced that four new laboratories would soon be established in Kano, Kaduna, Jos and Maiduguri, adding that the Centre is giving priority to states which already have a baseline capacity to build on.
Policy on Masks
“I did say we will release a policy on a face mask, this week. That policy has almost been completed and the draft is now being looked at by various colleagues to make sure that we are all aligned and tomorrow or next, we will be reviewing that policy so that we can all align our positions together”, said Dr Iheakwazu.
FCTA to distribute Palliatives
In a related development, Minister of State in the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has said the Administration will this week commence the distribution of palliative materials to the less privileged as part of measures to cushion the effect of the sit-at-home order.
The minister who made this disclosure during an inspection tour of storage facilities at the Kubwa NYSC Orientation Camp, also maintained that the palliatives are targeted at the vulnerable and the physically challenged in rural communities.
Aliyu, also revealed that security measures have been put in place to safeguard the palliative materials, stressing that security personnel will be increased in addition to the establishment of a police post in the vicinity.
“Honestly, if not for the producers that are coming from far places like Kano and beyond, we could have commenced today (Monday), but between Tuesday and Thursday, we are good to go. It will not go beyond this week.
“To me, it is not about rushing to do something but to do it well and effective service delivery should be uppermost. The aim is how it gets to the grassroots especially the vulnerable and the physically challenged in the society without hitches.
“We have identified capable hands that will do that for us across the structures because we have seen how chaotic it has been in other parts of the country,” Aliyu explained.
Speaking on those qualified to benefit from the palliative, the minister said; “the real poor and vulnerable ones that are desirous and anyone that comes up with a proof and sincerely believe that his family is desirous of this palliative. These are the people the palliatives are targeted at”.
Aliyu said the Administration has identified five large stores and five hostels at the Kubwa NYSC Orientation Camp to serve as storage facilities and isolation centre respectively, revealing that five trucks of palliative materials were expected to arrive on Monday evening.
According to her, “The NYSC camp is closed and corps members are at home. We have many facilities like hostels, halls and worship centres. We have secured five large halls for storage of palliative materials to be distributed across the territory.
“We are expecting about five trucks of deliverables today (Monday) and we are here to inspect and secure the stores where these items will be kept. To safeguard the materials, we have increased the number of security personnel to man this environment and the establishment of a police post.
“We are also here to inspect other facilities in case, God forbids, we have other cases of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have secured five big halls as one of the isolation centres that can accommodate 200 patients in case of any eventuality. Toilet facilities and adequate water supply will be ready soon”, she added.