KanyiDaily had reported how the whereabouts of the Chinese medical team became an issue during the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 on Thursday, May 14.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire had said the federal government could not explain the whereabouts of the Chinese team because they were not invited by the government, but entered the country on a company visa.
According to him, contrary to the viral reports that the medical team arrived the country to help the Nigerian Government fight against Coronavirus, they were actually guests of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
Speaking with newsmen on Monday, Managing Director of CCECC, Mr. Michael Yigao confirmed that the experts came into the country to share their experiences in fighting the COVID-19, but specially to help his company fight the pandemic and protect its employees.
“The team had a telecast meeting with the minister of health and some doctors around the country and shared their experience in China on how they’re fighting the virus and the meeting was very positive,” he said.
“They are here with us and have continued to teach our staff how to protect themselves because protection and prevention are more important than the treatment.
“Most of the workers understand the situation now and they know the risk, so they follow the proper procedures and cooperate with their instructors.”
Yigao said the medical experts, who are currently stranded in Nigeria, would be heading home as soon as the ban on commercial flights to China is lifted.
“Right now, commercial flight to China is not open, but when flights are open again, we’re considering the team going back to China,” he said.
“In a big country like Nigeria, it can be a bit difficult to control a pandemic because you will have to make all the people of such a large country understand that it is serious and real thing.
“I think Nigeria is taking this very seriously and you can see it in the implementation of the lockdown and the suspension of international flights etc.
“And like other companies in Nigeria, we will do whatever we can to help the country, like building treatment centres and training people on how to handle the virus.
“We understand the COVID-19 pandemic challenge in Nigeria because we are based here and have a lot of employees and we do believe, that with efforts from the government from the people, we will win this war.
“I hope the people of Nigeria understand that we need the help of all peoples across the world to win this fight against coronavirus.”
Also, the Executive Director of CCECC, Mr Jacques Liao, disclosed to PUNCH that the Chinese team were stranded in Nigeria following the unavailability of commercial flights to Beijing, the capital of China.
Liao explained that the medical experts were still at the Idu Area of Abuja where they were accommodated.
Shedding more light on the situation, Liao stated that the personnel were supposed to spend one month in Nigeria, adding that they were issued three-month visas.
“They (Chinese medical team) are waiting for their flight and this depends on when the airspace would be opened,” he said.
“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.”
This is coming after the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had demanded the Federal Government to declare the whereabouts of the 15 Chinese medical experts in the next 48 hours so as to douse the tension in the country.
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