The Nigerian government has said the 15 member team of Chinese medical personnel came into the country to assist in building and equipping isolation centres.
The minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said this while responding to questions at the daily Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday.
The Chinese team arrived in Nigeria on April 8 ”to share their experiences in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” the minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, had earlier said.
Although some Nigerians and medical associations kicked against the decision to invite the medical experts, the government went ahead as planned.
However, the whereabouts of these experts recently sparked controversy when Mr Ehanire requested reporters not to bother his ministry about them.
An exasperated Mr Ehanire said the medical personnel “are not guests of the Federal Government but CCECC, a construction company.”
Mr Aregbesola said the doctors are in Nigeria on the bill of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), a Chinese company working in Nigeria.
”Indeed 15 Chinese nationals came into Nigeria on April 8,” he said. “From everything we have heard and said, they were here on the bill of CCECC, a Chinese company working in Nigeria, doing some work for us in several places.”
”And in conjunction with some Nigerian companies, they agreed to support us with efforts to respond to the pandemic.
“At Idu, they participated in retrofitting and equipping the isolation centre there.
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”They equally worked on the dome project that was handled by the NNPC consortium in conjunction with THISDAY. Those are the location in which they came to work,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Mr Aregbesola explained that the Chinese have been unable to return their country due to the restriction placed on air travels globally.
He said the team members were issued a 30-day visa in Beijing, China.
“Fifteen of them came in on April 8. They came on a 30-day visa issued in Beijing but they are still here,” he added. “They are still here not because they have not completed their job but because there is a restriction on travels in Nigeria occasioned by the COVID-19 protocols.”