Authorities in Nigeria say the whereabouts of a team of 15 Chinese medical experts who arrived in the country in early April is not known to the government.
The Chinese team who travelled to Nigeria to support the country’s fight against coronavirus had been received at the airport by government officials, including Health Minister Osagie Ehanire.
But on Thursday, a frustrated Mr Ehanire told reporters that the experts were guests of a Chinese construction company handling several high-profile projects in Nigeria and that not all of them were doctors, as he had heard that some of were technicians who are staff of the company.
“There seems to be a lot of interest in these doctors but they are staff of a company. I would be very happy if you do not ask me where they are,” he told reporters.
“They are not really our guests in that sense but we have been able to learn some things from them. We shared ideas of what they did in their country in managing Covid-19.”
Mr Ehanire’s statement seems to be at odds with that of Information Minister Lai Mohammed, who last week told reporters that the Chinese doctors were already working at different isolation centres across the country where they were “helping our doctors in capacity building”.
Last month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the medical team was sent at the request of the Nigerian government, who “had voiced welcome and gratitude to China’s help”.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and other groups had criticised the arrival of the Chinese experts at the time, but the government had said they were in the country to help.