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COVID-19 fight: Chinese company’s assistance welcome, it’s corporate social responsibility, says FG  

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…256 equipment, 50 ventilators 1.3m medical masks, 150,000 pieces of assorted personal protective items to be donated

Amid criticisms of Chinese offer to assist in the fight against COVID-19 in the country, the Federal Government has mulled acceptance of the offer, saying it is a normal corporate social responsibility initiative by its company, not the Chinese Government.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Pandemic and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, said the support is from CCECC, a company with total value of infrastructure contracts worth $10 billion in Nigeria.

Last week Health Minister Osagie Ehanire had announced that an 18-man team of Chinese medical experts including doctors, nurses and other medical advisers would assist Nigeria to help in its fight against COVID-19.

In a swift reaction, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) had in a statement by its President, Dr Francis Faduyile, rejected the offer.

It described the plan as an “embarrassment to its members and other health workers fighting COVID-19 under deplorable conditions.’’

According to the association, their members should not have been subjected to the ignominy of not being carried along In such a decision.

Mustapha 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 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 seek for and receive help in the fight against COVID-19.  The support coming from China is a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative by CCECC, a company with total value of infrastructure contracts worth $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 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 handling them over.’’

The SGF,  therefore, appealed to Nigeria’s medical professionals to see the positive aspects of the 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.”

In the same vein, Ehanire, said there was already a global competition for masks and ventilators with some countries donating ventilators while others are producing them locally.

Describing the gesture as a big relief, the minister said:“It is particularly gratifying that in the face of all of this we able to get these supplies here, which even if we had the money we would not have been able to order.

“In addition, the technical experts will comprise research doctors, nurses and laboratory technicians, public health managers, who will share their own knowledge and skill and their real life experience of fighting of COVID-19 with Nigerian experts, to strengthen our own management of cases especially with regards to critical care. As we all know, this country has had quite an experience with it.”

The minister said the initiative will build greatly the capacity of resourceful Nigerian healthcare workers who are at the forefront of fighting the virus.

“The most needed personal protection equipment (PPE) are masks, we also protect our frontline workers and mitigate the spread of this disease.”

He said Nigeria has a window of opportunity to strengthen her response mechanism through lessons learnt from any country that have had experienced and can provide hands-on demonstration on how to deal with the outbreak and give Nigeria clinical workforce the opportunity of sharing global best practices.

On assistance to states, the minister said the federal government would  continue to support states to ensure that COVID-19 was routed completely, adding that rapid response teams have also been deployed to states.

On whether the visiting Chinese experts would undergo the tests, Ehanire said: “Anyone coming into this country will have to be subjected to the rules and regulations we have set down.

“Any the experts coming from abroad with all the knowledge and hands-on experience will still be subjected to the rules we have established. Even if it is assumed they would have done tests in their country, they will still have to same here.”

He promised to carry along the Nigerian Medical Association in the whole arrangement.

“The NMA will definitely will be carried along. I am a member of NMA, the honorable minister of state for health is a member of NMA and I have told the president that the door is open and all he needs to do is knock and whatever I am doing I will let him in on it.’’

The Director-General of National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said to date, 30 percent of all our cases have been found through contact tracing using electronic platforms.

He said hundreds of volunteers had een engaged in Lagos and Abuja with support from WHO to work in Lagos and Abuja, adding that two laboratories have been established  in Kano and Kaduna.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed restated that fake news was derailing the work of the committee.

He said: “Those who are bent on distracting the Federal Government through fake news from its focused fight against COVID-19 have not relented.

“The latest in this is the claim that I said there is no longer in the land and that the federal government has made available N100 billion to Nigerians. It is fake.

“There was no time I said it no anybody in the Taskforce said so. Two, they are also carrying a fake news that members of the Taskforce have agreed on the sharing formular of the money that is coming in to the Taskforce. Once again, it is false.’’

“The NCDC has a website and you can get an update on COVID-19. Some websites are notorious for this fake news and one of them is reporterspressng.com. I will advise Nigerians not to go there.”

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