Coronavirus: FG denies abandoning Nigerians in China

The Federal Government has denied abandoning about 60 Nigerians living in Wuhan, China as coronavirus ravaged the city.

Nigerian citizens, including students living and studying in China, had accused the Federal Government of failing to aid their evacuation from the Chinese province where the deadly coronavirus was first reported and had its largest number of victims.
But while reading a communiqué released at the end of an emergency meeting of the Ministers of Health of the Economic Community of West African States on regional preparedness and response to the ongoing Covid-19 (coronavirus) epidemic (held in Bamako, Mali), the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunibe Mamora, said in Abuja, on Monday, that the Nigerian government was in touch with the Chinese government concerning Nigerians in China.

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He said, “The Chinese ambassador here in Nigeria is constantly in touch with us at the Ministry of Health. We are also in touch with Nigeria ambassador in China. One of the reasons he is representing Nigeria in China is to monitor the health of our citizens in China.
“If the need arises to evacuate, we will do that; but we don’t want a situation where we will create panic. This is no time for fear or stigmatisation. This is the time for science and research. It is not only Nigerians that are in self-isolation in China but even the Chinese citizens. Anyone leaving China now will be tested and if found with the virus, you will not be allowed to leave in order not to spread the virus.”

At the briefing, the Director-General of the West Africa Health Organisation, Dr Stanley Okolo, said a huge amount of money was needed to prepare the region against the virus.

“The commitment from all member states at the Bamako meeting is that there should be a regional plan that is strategic and they will support it to the best of their capacity.

“We are learning from the lesson of Ebola. When it hit us, everybody accepted that the response was slow. Ultimately, the member states contributed to Ebola fund and we had partners bringing a lot of money.

“This is not only the fight for the government. The devastation of the epidemic affects everybody. In our estimate, we are not looking at $5m, we think it will be in the region of $30m to $50m to be sure that we can create headway in terms of critical personal protection, laboratory supplies, and others and in terms of communication and coordination across borders,” he said.

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