By Laide Akinboade, Abuja
The Federal Government on Monday, explained why the 18 Chinese health experts and doctors are coming to Nigeria saying the visit was on advisory and capacity building basis.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF)and Chairman Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, Boss Mustapha, stated this in Abuja, at a news briefing to give update on Covid-19.
He said the PTF by the end of the week will submit its full assessment to advise President Muhammadu Buhari, on the next step to take before the expiration of the 14days lockdown.
According to him, “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”, he said.
On restriction of movement in some states in Nigeria including Abuja, he said,”The restrictions on Lagos, Ogun and FCT are now 7days old, and reports from our assessment still show substantial compliance in these places. 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.
“Let me reiterate the fact that these restrictions are not punitive as they are meant to prevent the escalation of the spread especially within communities. As you have noticed, the numbers have risen and this calls for extra caution and extra collaboration by citizens, corporate and religious bodies as well as community leaders. The awareness must reach both the informed and uninformed; and it is our collective responsibility”, he said.
Collaborating the Secretary to the Federal Government points, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the Chinese medical experts, comprising doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and public health managers will share their knowledge, skills and real-life experience of fighting covid-19 with Nigerian personnel to strengthening management of COVID-19 cases, especially with regard to critical care.
According to him, “18-man team of Chinese medical experts is expected to arrive Nigeria in a few days with a consignment of globally scarce medical supplies, to augment government efforts and build capacity to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The donation by Chinese Companies in Nigeria, includes PPEs, medical consumables, over 1 million surgical masks for health workers and even ICU ventilators, valued at over $100,000, all sourced in the face of global scarcity of these items.
“This initiative will greatly build the capacity of hard-working and resourceful Nigerian Health Care Workers at the forefront of fighting coronavirus. The much needed PPEs and masks will protect our frontline workers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the line of duty.
“We have a window of opportunity to strengthen our own response mechanism through lessons learned from any country that has had the experience and can provide hands-on demonstration of dealing with the outbreak and give the Nigerian clinical workforce the opportunity to share global best practices”, he stressed.
Ehanire added that, over the weekend, we recorded 42 new cases, bringing to a total of 232, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria. They are in 14 States and the FCT as at today, 6th April, 2020, We have recorded 5 fatalities in total, all with underlying ailments.
A total of 33 patients have been discharged from treatment. We have 120 patients in Lagos State, 47 in FCT, Osun 20, Oyo 9, Edo 9, Bauchi 6, Akwa Ibom 5, Kaduna 5, Ogun 4, Enugu 2, Ekiti 2, while Ondo, Rivers and Benue have 1 each.
Through enhanced surveillance systems and strengthened epidemic intelligence, we continue to detect cases of COVID-19 and treat them to recovery. We have tested over 5,000 samples so far, and are working hard to scale up capacity in a targeted approach.
He further stated that, Since the last briefing, we have activated two additional laboratories for COVID-19 testing at the Defence Reference Laboratory, FCT and Biosafety Level-3 Laboratory Lagos. In the coming month, we intend to expand further to more laboratory with capacity to test for COVID-19.
“We are working with the African Union to develop a continental response. A Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 response has been developed and an African Task Force on Coronavirus (AFCOR) set up to coordinate preparedness and response efforts in the continent.
While ensuring we do not lose gains made in the health sector, we shall continue to support States in strengthening their preparedness and response to COVID-19. Rapid Response Teams are deployed to all the affected states.