Chinese Doctors: 3 airline crew members disappear from isolation center

Three members of the airline crew that flew in the Chinese Doctors and other equipment needed in the fight against coronavirus in Nigeria, have escaped from their Lagos isolation center.

According to a report by The Punch, the crew, who flew Air Peace’s Boeing 777-200ER jumbo jet from China, landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The 17 crew members comprising pilots and flight attendants later on Wednesday proceeded to Lagos to be quarantined by the Lagos State Government in line with an agreement the Ministry of Health reached with the carrier’s management. The Chinese medical personnel were quarantined in Abuja.

Air Peace partnered the Federal Government to ferry the Chinese medical team and medical supplies from China to Nigeria.

The Chinese team brought about 16 tons of test kits, ventilators, disinfection machine, disposable medical masks, N95 masks, medications, rubber gloves, protective gowns, goggles, face shields, infra-red thermometers and others.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who was at the airport to receive the Chinese doctors and their supplies, said the team would be quarantined for two weeks.

He said,

“They knew that before they came and have undergone tests before they left their country.

“Nevertheless, they will be in quarantine for 14 days. The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control has gone to see where they will be quarantined.”

Ehanire added: “The equipment (they brought) will assist a lot to fill some existing gaps. We now have 50 more ventilators.”

However, investigation showed that the flight crew members disagreed with Port Health Services officials on duty at Lagos airport over the 14-day compulsory quarantine.

Port Health Services is a unit of the Ministry of Health that screens arriving and departing passengers of infectious diseases especially COVID-19.

On arrival at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos at about 10pm on Wednesday, the flight crew initially refused to be quarantined.

Ministry of Health sources confirmed that the pilots and cabin crew members claimed their management did not inform them of the 14-day compulsory quarantine.

As such, the flight personnel initially refused to follow the port health officials to the quarantine centre provided by the Lagos State Government.

There was subsequently a heated exchange that lasted for about three hours over the 14-day compulsory quarantine between the crew and the port health officials.

After several calls by the port health officials on duty to top officials of the Ministry of Health in Abuja as well as top officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Health, the crew members bowed to pressure and agreed to go to the quarantine centre at about 1am.

On arriving the Scholars Lodge at the University of Lagos where the state government had prepared for the crew to be quarantine around 2am, another debate ensued over the type of the apartment provided.

The crew members insisted that they wanted a single-user apartment for each member of the crew instead of the two-bedroom apartment meant to be shared by two persons which the state provided.

Top health officials revealed that the crew asked officers on duty to take them to another facility as the apartments were not the type they wanted. This debate, it was learnt, went on for another three hours till about 5 am before the crew finally agreed to stay at the centre.

Meanwhile, before the crew departed the Lagos airport, one of the 17 crew members had escaped and left apparently for his house, unknown to the port health officials.

This was not discovered until Thursday evening when a head count was conducted at the quarantine centre.

It was also at this time officials discovered that two out of the 16 crew members brought to the Scholars Lodge had also escaped.

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