China’s richest man Jack Ma donates 100,000 face masks and 20,000 test kits to EVERY African nation to prevent coronavirus from taking hold on the continent

  • The tycoon, 55, announced the decision through his foundation yesterday
  • He is also sending 1,000 free medical use protective suits to each country
  • All supplies will be flown to Ethiopia before being shared by the continent 
  • He urged all countries to stop being ‘irresponsible’ and ‘take actions now’ 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

China’s wealthiest man is donating anti-coronavirus medical supplies to every country in Africa to prevent an outbreak from occurring on the continent.

Jack Ma, worth £32.3billion, has promised to send 100,000 face masks, 20,000 test kits and 1,000 medical use protective suits to each of Africa’s 54 nations.

The 55-year-old tycoon has also urged all countries to avoid being ‘irresponsible’ and ‘take actions now’ after the centre of the outbreak shifted from the Chinese province of Hubei to Europe.

African countries have been among the last to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic. But as cases arise, many nations are now taking strict measures to block the deadly disease, known as COVID-19.

Jack Ma (pictured in 2019) has promised to donate a total of 1.1 million testing kits, six million masks and 60,000 protective suits to Africa to help the continent fight the coronavirus

African countries have been among the last to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but cases are rising. Pictured, traders wear face masks at the Kimironko market, Rwanda, on Tuesday 

The pandemic has killed more than 7,400 people and infected over 187,540 around the world

Mr Ma, the founder of e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba, is providing the goods through Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation.

Besides, the two organisations ‘will immediately start working with medical institutions in Africa to provide online training material for COVID-19 clinical treatment’, Mr Ma said in a statement.

All supplies, including 1.1 million testing kits, six million masks and 60,000 protective suits, would be flown to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has agreed to help Mr Ma distribute the relief to other nations, the billionaire added.

Mr Ma’s donations will be flown to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, before being shared across Africa. Pictured, volunteers stand ready to provide soap and water for participants to wash their hands to prevent the new coronavirus at a sport event in Addis Ababa on March 15

His statement went on: ‘The crisis is proving to be more difficult and longer lasting than any of us had expected.

‘We must make every effort to get prepared. The past two months show us that if we take it very seriously and are proactive, we are more than capable of containing the virus.

‘Now it is as if we were all living in the same forest on fire. As members of the global community, it would be irresponsible of us to sit on the fence, panic, ignore facts or fail to act.

‘We need to take actions now!’

Mr Ma announced last week he wound send medical relief to America. The 55-year-old (pictured in 2019) said: ‘Hopefully, these supplies can help some people in the United States’

The magnate has already donated millions of masks and test kits to Japan, South Korea, Iran and Europe to support their containment of the fast-spreading contagion. The pictures show employees of South Korea’s Red Cross loading boxes of masks donated by Mr Ma on March 12

The self-made billionaire, who used to be an English teacher, has already donated millions of masks and test kits to various countries, including Japan and South Korea, to support their containment of the fast-spreading contagion.

He announced last Friday that he was donating one million face masks and 500,000 coronavirus test kits to the United States.

A week earlier, he offered 1.8million face masks and 100,000 coronavirus test kits to Europe to help heavily hit countries, such as Italy and Spain, to fight the virus.

Africa begins its battle against the coronavirus

African countries have been among the last to be hit by the global coronavirus epidemic but as cases arise, many nations are now taking strict measures to block the deadly illness.

Here is a snapshot of the situation on a continent plagued by weak health systems and shortages of doctors and hospital beds, but where many countries have top-level expertise in fighting contagious disease.

Slow to arrive, but now spreading

Virus threat: A lab technician gears up for visiting a quarantine ward at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi

The first case in Africa was recorded in Egypt on February 14, and by early March there were only two more cases in Algeria and Nigeria.

Experts initially wondered why the continent appeared to have so few cases, and some speculated whether the virus was spreading undetected.

Since then confirmed cases have spread steadily and in a little over a week more than 20 new countries have been infected, bringing the total to 30 of 54 African nations with 450 known cases of the virus.

The worst-affected countries are in North Africa, where local transmission is now taking place and 10 deaths have been confirmed.

Egypt has recorded 166 cases and four deaths, and Algeria 60 cases and also four deaths. Sudan and Morocco each have one death.

Economic powerhouse South Africa has 62 cases, many of which were imported, although the virus is now spreading in the community.

In East Africa, home to hubs Ethiopia and Kenya, there are a total of 20 cases across six countries.

Senegal is the worst-affected in West Africa with 27 cases, most of whom were infected by a single citizen who had returned from Italy.

Travel restrictions

Senegal’s Muslim brotherhoods have suspended religious festivities planned for this month

Watching from afar as the disaster unfolds in Asia and Europe, where many are suffering the consequences of being slow to act, some African countries have wasted no time in taking drastic measures.

Air traffic, in particular, has been hard hit as nations across the continent realised their first cases had come from citizens returning from travel abroad in infected countries.

In comparison to many countries in the west, measures have been decisive and very strict.

Morocco has stopped all international flights ‘until further notice’ aside from special planes authorised to repatriate European tourists.

Somalia, a country riven by decades of conflict, also banned all international flights, including for cargo, after confirming its first case. Humanitarian flights, however, will be allowed to proceed.

Chad, where no cases have been reported, has also shut its airports and borders with affected Sudan and Central African Republic.

Others are banning flights and travellers depending on their origins.

Senegal has blocked air links with seven European countries and the Middle East. Togo and Madagascar have taken similar measures.

Others like Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Ivory Coast have blocked foreigners from high-risk countries, in some cases allowing those in who hold resident permits.

Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana and Equatorial Guinea are among those insisting on self-quarantine for travellers from high-risk countries.

Tourism has been hard-hit, including the cruise industry with ships blocked by many countries including Madagascar, Senegal, Seychelles and Mauritius.

Bans and cancellations

The annual Bushfire Festival in Eswatini, also known as Swaziland, is another coronavirus casualty

At least 13 countries on the continent have closed or are preparing to shut down their school systems all the way up to university level.

This includes Kenya, Rwanda, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal, South Africa, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast.

To add to this measure Kenya has encouraged working from home, which has seen thousands streaming from the capital to their rural homes.

Some countries have also taken strong measures regarding religious gatherings.

In Senegal, the powerful Muslim brotherhoods have suspended religious festivities planned for this month. Tunisian authorities have suspended group prayers, including on Fridays.

Major sporting and cultural events have also been hit by the wave of bans.

The annual Bushfire music festival in Eswatini has been cancelled while in South Africa the popular AfrikaBurn festival will also not go ahead while a plethora of sporting events have been blocked.

Tunisia meanwhile is continuing with sporting events without spectators. 

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