Zimbabwe is set to receive 20 000 test kits, 100 000 masks and 1 000 medical-use protective suits and face shields from Chinese billionaire Mr Jack Ma.
The donation is part of 1,1 million testing kits, six million masks and 60 000 hazmat suits and face shields that Mr Ma pledged to 54 African countries including Zimbabwe in a statement issued on Monday.
The entire consignment will be delivered through Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, which will take the lead in managing the logistics and distribution to the rest of the continent.
Each of the African country will also receive the same consignment as Zimbabwe.
The donation is being extended through his foundation Jack Ma and Alibaba, where he is a co-founder.
“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,” said Mr Ma in the statement.
He said his organisation will immediately start working with health institutions in Africa to provide online training for COVID-19 clinical treatment.
He urged African countries to start taking precautions now before the virus starts spreading rapidly on the continent and to draw lessons from countries already battling Covid-19.
“This crisis is proving to be more difficult than any of us had expected. We must make every effort to be prepared.
“The past two months have shown us that if we take it very seriously and are proactive, we are more capable of containing the virus,” said Ma.
Recently, Ma said he will also donate 500 000 coronavirus testing kits and one million face masks to the United States. He has also shared his plans to give to Europe and Iran.
“Now it is as if we were all living in the same forest on fire. As members of the global community, it will be irresponsible of us to sit on the fence, panic, ignore facts, or fail to act. We need to take action now,” Ma said.
As of Tuesday, March 15, 26 African countries had reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 with four being SADC member states — South Africa, Eswatini, Namibia and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Of these countries, South Africa reported local transmission of COVID-19.