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Chinese medical team to arrive in Nigeria soon — Health minister

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Friday, said that Chinese doctors, nurses and medical experts would arrive in Nigeria in a few days to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

A Chinese team of experts pose for a photograph with head of the Italian Red Cross Francesco Rocca after arriving at Rome?s Fiumicino airport on a chartered plane with a consignment of medical supplies including respirators and masks, to help Italy cope with a coronavirus outbreak, in Rome, Italy, March 12, 2020 in this still image taken from video March 13, 2020. Aeroporti di Roma (AdR)/Handout via REUTERS

The minister said this during a briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja. Cases in Nigeria have reached 210 as the global figure also surpassed one million mark. He said Nigeria was also exploring the possibility of producing some medical equipment after key stakeholders met in Abuja on Thursday.

The coming of the Chinese medical experts was announced just as the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said efforts to contain COVID-19 in Nigeria were being limited by finance, manpower and other indices despite the support from government and individuals. Ehanire said, “The global number has crossed one million mark, barely three months after the first cases were first reported in Wuhan, China. It is an indication that it is a public health challenge that we must not take lightly.”

He continued, “We are already seeing what may be the indication of community transmission, in that 30 per cent of the cases have incomplete epidemiological information. 51 per cent are imported cases and 19 per cent are through contacts of known cases.

“Directors of the Federal Ministry of Health had discussions with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria to explore the potential for local production of medical consumables such as face masks, gloves, sanitisers and even ventilators. “This is in view of looming global shortages of medical supplies for the response due to high demands from all countries. Clinical trials and other processes are ongoing to validate various therapeutic for COVID-19 treatment.”

After the briefing, Nigeria recorded 20 new cases: 11 in Lagos State, three in FCT, three in Edo State, two in Osun State and one in Ondo State.

Ehanire said he had been notified of medical supplies from China courtesy of a group of Chinese companies working in Nigeria.

“A special cargo aircraft shall leave Nigeria in a few days to collect the items which include Personal Protective Equipment and ventilators. “Of great interest is that an 18-man team of medical experts from China, including doctors, nurses and medical experts shall come along with the flight to assist us,” he said.

The minister said more cases might be detected during the remaining days of the lockdown window, calling on officials to speed up their work. He said, “We are using the small window of opportunity remaining to intensify investigation to identify cases and sources. This is one of the purposes of the lockdown of the two states (Lagos and Ogun) and the FCT.

“Lagos and other parts will need to speed up their activities to detect and isolate COVID-19 patients. “We expect to see an increase in cases during the lockdown as a measure of improvement in case finding. If all measures and social distancing are followed, the incidence of positive cases can be controlled.”

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