Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila on Monday insisted the Chinese doctors coming to help in the fight against COVID-19 must first be quarantined for 14 days and comply with all relevant laws in the country.
Speaking at a meeting between the Ministers of Health and the leadership of the House of Representatives, the Speaker said the Ministry must ensure that that the Chinese medical personnel undergo the necessary checks as provided by Nigeria.
Gbajabiamila said the measure became necessary to allay fears expressed by many Nigerians, adding that the meeting was conveyed following widespread complaints that trailed the announcement of the coming of some Chinese medical personnel to assist Nigeria.
The Speaker said: “There are a lot of complaints about why we are bringing in Chinese doctors. It is incumbent on us, as lawmakers, to intervene, following the concerns of our constituents to understand the issues and get the right information to them.
“Our duty is to protect the Nigerian people, and every opportunity to increase our knowledge will not be thrown away.
“Having listened to you, what we are taking away from this meeting is that Nigeria needs this intervention from the Chinese. But you have to make it mandatory that they observe all the protocols laid down for the disease.
“As you have explained that they won’t have direct contact with Nigerian patients, you have to make sure that they go through our official immigration laws and they have to get work permit waivers because they are coming here to work.
“Also, they have to be quarantined for 14 days as stipulated by the protocol, and you have to educate Nigerians about this to avoid misconceptions. We have laws and they must be complied with”.
The Speaker said the information gap about the Chinese gesture was regrettable and should be addressed immediately.
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the Chinese doctors were not coming on the invitation of the Government but on the arrangement of a group of Chinese companies based in Nigeria as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
The Minister explained that being a novel disease, which every country is trying to understand, Nigeria will benefit tremendously from the gesture because existing health facilities and personnel in Nigeria to tackle the disease are inadequate.
Minister of State for Health, Olorunnibe Mamora, explained that the Chinese doctors are mainly experts in molecular laboratory testing, adding that Nigeria has only two indigenous experts in that field serving the seven laboratory centres.
Mamora said the Chinese doctors are expected to help in setting up molecular laboratories around the country as well as upgrade and reconfigure existing ones.