The invitation of 14 Chinese doctors recently to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria caused a furore even before their arrival on April 8. Since then, the Chinese experts have become a subject of misinformation.
Recall that health workers under the aegis of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and some prominent Nigerians kicked against the invitation. While some argued the dependence of Nigeria on the Asian country, others backed up their arguments with the rumoured conspiracy theories which tilt towards Neo-colonialism.
Upon their arrival in Nigeria, there were reports that the foreign nationals were sponsored to Nigeria with millions of dollars from the federal government’s purse. However, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, explained that the doctors came on the bill of China Civil Engineering Construction Cooperation(CCECC).
The Executive Director of CCECC, Jacques Liao also said; “the primary purpose of the team is to provide CCECC employees with critical and necessary healthcare.”
Nonetheless, of recent, an unconfirmed report of one of the Chinese doctors contracting Coronavirus is being shared across social media platforms.
CLAIM: “Breaking: One of the Chinese doctors in Nigeria tested positive for Coronavirus”.
This first appeared online by 7:58 pm on the 14th of April, 2020. It was posted via @FRNcitizens, a twitter handle. In less than an hour, the tweet had been retweeted 1071 times and liked by 1,417 persons.
“You don’t even know the worse part is that some of the Chinese doctors left from where they isolated them in Lagos to God knows where,” the poster continued under the twitter thread.
VERIFICATION: POLITICS NIGERIA, in its support of media accountability, carried out a check on the claims.
The account that tweeted the claim has been suspended on Twitter. While the reason for the suspension is not known, this news medium understands that the social media app flags only accounts who have violated its rules and regulations.
However, an enquiry about the source of the information that was sent to the manager of the twitter account via the email address provided in its bio was not responded to. Also, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed on Wednesday reacted to claims that one of the Chinese doctors who came to Nigeria to assist in the fight against COVID-19, tested positive for the dreaded disease.
“This morning, there was a message that went viral, to the effect that one of the Chinese doctors tested positive and that news was supposed to have emanated from the Twitter handle of the federal government. I want to say, to the best of our knowledge here, there’s no such thing.”
“I’ve also just received two hate dramas and other fake news while I was sitting here, which I’ve been unable to open. But we will continue always to debunk fake news and we’ll try our best to timely give you information about the COVID-19, either through our daily press briefings or through the website of the NCDC and the task force,” he said.
In fact, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has flagged the report as “fake news”.
“The rumour circulating that a doctor who was brought in to support Nigeria’s public health response has tested positive for #COVID19 is FALSE,” it posted on its official twitter handle on Thursday evening.
— NCDC (@NCDCgov) April 16, 2020
VERDICT: Since there is no available evidence, the claim that one of the Chinese doctors invited to Nigeria has tested POSITIVE for CORONAVIRUS is FALSE