Jack Ma donates masks, medical supplies to help coronavirus fight in Asia and Latin America

Echo Xie

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has pledged to donate emergency supplies such as face masks and testing kits to 24 Latin American countries and some of Asia’s poorest nations to combat the coronavirus.

Ma said in a tweet on Sunday that his foundation would donate 2 million masks, 400,000 testing kits and 104 ventilators to 24 Latin American countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Peru. “We will ship long-distance, and we will hurry!” Ma wrote.

The Alibaba Foundation on Saturday said it had offered supplies to 10 countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, the Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Those supplies would include 1.8 million face masks, 210,000 testing kits, 36,000 protective suits, and ventilators and thermometers, Ma, one of Asia’s richest men, said in a tweet on Saturday.

Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

It came after the Alibaba Foundation said last week it was preparing to send 2 million face masks, 150,000 testing kits, 20,000 protective suits and 20,000 face shields to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

On Monday, Ma also announced on his newly opened Twitter account that the first shipment of face masks and testing kits had been sent to the United States.

The Jack Ma Foundation on March 13 said it had sourced and prepared 500,000 testing kits and 1 million face masks to be donated to the US, after previously sending supplies to Japan, Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain. “United we stand, divided we fall!” the foundation said in a statement.

The Alibaba and Jack Ma foundations have been working together to send emergency supplies to places in Europe, Africa, North America and Asia hit by the global pandemic, which has caused shortages of medical supplies and protective equipment around the world.

Medical supplies donated by the Alibaba and Jack Ma foundations are prepared to be sent from Guangzhou’s airport to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia on Saturday. Photo: Xinhua

The Chinese government has also sent supplies and medical personnel to support other countries as the situation eases in China, where 46 new cases were reported on Saturday – all but one of them imported.

Outside China, the virus continues to spread rapidly, posing a major threat to less developed countries where health care systems are weaker, with limited supplies and resources.

Across Africa, more than 10,000 cases had been recorded as of Saturday, spanning at least 40 countries.

The number of new infections has meanwhile been rising in some parts of Asia. Indonesia reported 81 new cases on Saturday, bringing its total to 450. The Philippines reported 73 new cases on Sunday, with 380 infections in total. And Thailand reported its largest daily increase on Saturday, with 89 new cases taking its national tally to 411.

The Jack Ma Foundation added Africa to its donation list on Monday, pledging to send every one of the 54 African nations 20,000 testing kits, 100,000 face masks, and 1,000 medical-use protective suits and face shields.

China has meanwhile sent medical teams to help other countries hit hard by the virus. Last month, Beijing sent medical workers to Iran, the worst-affected country in the Middle East, along with a shipment of supplies. And on Wednesday, a team of Chinese disease control experts were sent to Italy, the epicentre of the pandemic in Europe, where the death toll has exceeded 4,800.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Friday said the government was donating supplies including testing kits, face masks and protective gear to 82 countries, as well as the African Union and the World Health Organisation. Most of the supplies had already been delivered, he said.

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