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Chinese medical experts sent to Nigeria tested positive for Covid-19? No, headline false

“15 Chinese team all tested positive for coronavirus today in Abuja,” reads the headline of a  10 April 2020 article on the Nigerian website Exclusive103.

The article has been shared on Facebook, where it’s been viewed nearly 400,000 times. 

A team of 15 Chinese medical experts, including doctors, nurses and laboratory technicians, arrived in Nigeria to “help strengthen testing and management of Covid-19 cases”, the article says.

But did all 15 test positive for Covid-19? We checked.


Headline does not match article

The article itself does not back up the claim in the headline. The headline says all the experts tested positive for Covid-19, but the text simply reports that the health minister, Dr Osagie Ehanire, had said in a press statement that the team would be quarantined for 14 days and tested for Covid-19. 

The article goes on to discuss the minister’s statements about medical supplies, including personal protective equipment such as medical masks and ventilators, that were donated by the Chinese government and arrived with the team. 

At no point does the article claim that the Chinese medical experts tested positive for Covid-19 or mention the results of the tests, which had not yet been conducted.

No other news outlet has reported that the Chinese team tested positive for Covid-19 and neither has Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health

Chinese team quarantined in line with regulations

The team of 15 medical experts arrived in Abuja on 8 April 2020 with medical equipment and supplies valued at US$1.5 million, donated by the Chinese government.

In a press conference at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Ehanire said the experts would be helping with strategy for and management of the disease, but would first be quarantined.

“They will be in quarantine for 14 days. They knew that before they came and they [conducted] their own tests before they left their country,” Ehanire said

The team will be tested under quarantine in accordance with Nigeria’s existing restrictions on travellers from high-risk countries such as China and Italy. 

The article’s headline is false. The Chinese medical team will be tested for Covid-19 in accordance with Nigeria’s rules on travellers from high-risk countries. The tests are still being conducted and there is no evidence they tested positive before they arrived in Nigeria. – Naledi Mashishi


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