Chinese billionaire Jack Ma to donate coronavirus test kits and masks to Kenya and other African countries

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Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma. PHOTO/ALIBABA

  • Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma announces his foundation would donate 20,000 coronavirus test kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 medical use protective suits and face shields to each of the 54 African countries.
  • Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma announced on Friday his charitable foundation would donate 500 million coronavirus testing kits and 1 million face masks to the US.
  • Ma joined Twitter this month, and sent his first tweet on Saturday to say the first shipment of aid supplies was on its way from Shanghai.
  • Ma previously pledged $14.5 million towards the development of a vaccine against the virus.

By PATRICK MAYOYO

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma tweeted today that his foundation would donate 20,000 coronavirus test kits, 100,000 masks, 1,000 medical use protective suits and face shields to each of the 54 African countries.

Mr Jack Ma tweeted that African countries can be one step ahead of the coronavirus if they take immediate precautions and get prepared ahead of time, as they can benefit from the experiences and lessons from other countries that were earlier hit hard by the virus.

“We cannot ignore the potential risk to Africa and assume this continent of 1.3 billion people will blissfully escape the crisis. The world cannot afford the unthinkable consequences of a COVID-19 pandemic in Africa,” he said in the tweet.

He thanked Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for his efforts in trying to limit the spread of coronavirus in his populous country. So far, Ethiopia has confirmed four cases of coronavirus.

On Friday, the Chinese billionaire tweeted for the first time ever to say his Jack Ma Foundation had started shipping 1 million masks and 500,000 coronavirus testing kits to the US.

According to Business Insider China’s richest man appears to be following through on his promise to donate materials to the US to help fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Jack Ma pledged on Friday to donate 500 million virus testing kits and 1 million face masks to the US.

Ma tweeted Sunday to say the first shipment of masks and kits was ready to fly out of Shanghai. It’s the first time the billionaire has ever posted to Twitter.

His announcement did not specify where in the US the masks and tests were destined.

Ma also pledged 100 million yuan ($14.5 million) towards the development of a vaccine in late January. And earlier in March, the billionaire donated a further $2.15 million to the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Australia, again with a view towards developing a vaccine.

Ma is far from the only billionaire to pour money into fighting the coronavirus. Bill and Melinda Gates pledged $100 million through their charitable foundation in February, and the Gates Foundation is funding a scheme to distribute at-home testing kits in Washington State.

The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative — the philanthropic organization founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan — announced it has formed a coronavirus “task force” and is funding the purchase of new COVID-19 diagnostic machines in the Bay Area, California.

Meanwhile, China’s experience in containing the spread of the new coronavirus could serve as a lesson for other countries now facing the COVID-19 pandemic, a senior official with the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded the status of the COVID-19 outbreak from epidemic to pandemic. Here are five important pieces of information on what this means for you and your community.

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