Chinese contractors send doctors, equipment to virus-hit developing countries

Chinese construction companies are sending medical supplies and personnel to developing countries where they are working, including Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Bangladesh and Uganda.

It comes as the Chinese government is sending ventilators, face masks, and testing kits to more than 120 countries.

Among the construction companies is China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), the main contractor for the Nigerian government’s rail modernisation projects.

CCECC said on Tuesday that it would be arranging a chartered flight of 16 tonnes of testing kits, ventilators, disinfection machines, medical masks, N95 masks, medicines, rubber gloves, protective gowns, and infrared thermometers.

CCECC is also sponsoring a 15-strong Chinese medical team, 12 of whom are experts in infectious disease, respiratory illness and intensive care.

The doctors have tested negative for the virus, but will undergo a 14-day quarantine on arriving in Nigeria.

CCECC is also building two clinics with a total of 246 beds without charge. Nigeria presently has around 250 confirmed cases of the disease.

China Railway Construction Company, the parent of CCECC, has more than 140 projects under construction in the country, with over 1,600 Chinese employees and 12,000 local employees.

Other countries to receive help include Algeria, where the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) has already sent a 13-member medical team and equipment, including ventilators.

CSCEC is also expected to build a small hospital to provide preventive care for roughly 5,000 Algerians and 4,000 Chinese employed by CSCEC. Algeria presently has around 1,250 confirmed cases.

In addition, CSCEC has sent a 10-member medical team to Egypt, where the company is building the central business district of the New Administrative Capital outside Cairo. 

In Bangladesh, which had appealed to China for help with protective equipment, China Railway Group on Tuesday donated some to Kurmitola General Hospital and the Combined Military Hospital.

China Railways, which is the contractor for Padma Bridge, donated 10,000 N95 masks, 40,000 disposable surgical masks, 1,000 medical protection gowns, 400 medical goggles, and 500 detection kits to the hospitals in a programme at the CREC office in Dhaka.

In Uganda, the China Communications Construction Company is one of nine Chinese companies to make medical donations. On Monday it donated 20 boxes of sanitising liquid soap, 60 mattresses, 100 mosquito nets and 100 boxes of bottled water.

As well as protecting their employees and the general population, China’s medical aid may help to improve the image of Chinese contractors in the host companies.

In some cases, local populations have expressed hostility to contractors’ practice of importing workers from China, as well as the impact of Chinese investment on competing local businesses.

Image: Wang Kun of CREC hands over the kits to the Bangladeshi army (Supplied)

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