The Chinese experts who arrived Nigeria in early April were brought in primarily to assist the staff of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to avoid the COVID-19 infection, the company said in a statement on Friday.
CCECC, a Chinese construction firm that has a hand in some of the largest infrastructure projects in the country, said the experts underwent a 14-day quarantine on arrival into the country and were tested for the virus.
“The medical personnel, including infectious disease experts, were brought to Nigeria primarily to assist CCECC in preventing COVID-19 outbreak among its staff and providing expertise on COVID-19 management should the need arise,” the CCECC statement, posted on its Twitter page, read.
In addition to helping CCECC manage the pandemic, the experts also provided technical support to the Nigerian government in the installation of equipment at Thisday Dome, a 300-bed isolation centre.
“Upon invitation from the Federal Ministry of Health, the team has held a teleconference with the Ministry’s representatives and Nigerian medical experts in experience sharing sessions,” CCECC said.
The company confirmed the recent comments of the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, on the whereabouts of the Chinese experts.
“The medical personnel are in Nigeria at the instance of CCECC Nigeria and they have been, at all times, under the care and accommodation of CCECC,” the statement said.
“During their stay in Nigeria, they have complied with all known immigration and health protocols.”
The Chinese experts have been a subject of controversy in Nigeria. Many say they are wary of the intentions of the Chinese, while others believe it unnecessarily plays up the incompetence of Nigerian health workers.
It is “a thing of embarrassment” to the country’s health workers, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) said in a statement just before the doctors arrived.
In its statement on Friday, CCECC said none of the experts are involved in the treatment of COVID-19 cases during their time in the country.
“In dealing with both the CCECC and the Nigerian health officials,” CCECC said, “the team only plays an advisory role.”
See CCECC’s full statement below: