Chinese tech titan and Alibaba founder Jack Ma will donate medical equipment, including 1.5 million laboratory kits for the novel coronavirus, to member states of the African Union, according to a statement released on Monday.
The statement said the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the government of Ethiopia, the headquarters of the AU, would receive the consignment of diagnostic test kits and invention control goods.
The equipment includes 20 000 laboratory diagnostic test kits, 100 000 medical masks, and 1 000 protective suits and face shields.
While Italy, China and the United States have borne the harshest blows from the virus, it has gained momentum in South Africa and on the African continent. On Monday, South Africa announced an increase in confirmed cases of 128, bringing the tally up to 402.
South Africa's permanent representative to Ethiopia and the African Union, Edward Xolisa Makaya, thanked Ma for the donation and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for leading the discussion that facilitated it.
"On behalf of the chairperson of the African Union, His Excellency, Cyril Ramaphosa, we thank the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations for this generous hospitality and contribution to the continent. We thank His Excellency the Prime Minister, and the Government of Ethiopia, for facilitating the donation," said Makaya.
Africa CDC director, John Nkengasong, said the test kits and other materials would support African countries in their fight against this outbreak.
"We are facing a humanitarian situation, an economic situation and a security situation in the continent, and Africa CDC clearly applauds the initiative of the prime minister and the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations," said Nkengasong.
Ambassador Mohamed Idriss Farah, permanent representative of the Republic of Djibouti the AU appealed to ministries of health to ensure that the materials are distributed and used where they are most needed.
The statement said Ethiopian Airlines would help distribute the equipment to each of AU member states as part of their contribution to the fight against the coronavirus in Africa.