Massive medical supplies donated by China's Jack Ma Foundation to 54 African countries arrived on Sunday morning in Addis Ababa, capital of the East African nation of Ethiopia, through an Ethiopian Airlines cargo flight.
They include 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields, according to the Jack Ma Foundation.
The supplies will first be distributed to countries throughout Africa which are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. The remaining 600,000 masks are expected to reach Addis Ababa and be distributed to more African nations over the next few weeks, it said.
The relief initiative forms part of Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation's ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 and provide aid to afflicted communities across the globe.
Earlier this week, the foundations had announced their commitment to donating 100,000 medical masks, 20,000 test kits and 1,000 protective suits and face shields to each of the 54 nations on the African continent.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across Africa has climbed to 1,114 as 40 African countries reported confirmed cases as of Saturday afternoon, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention disclosed on Saturday.
Collaboration and partnership with the Alibaba-led Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) hubs in Ethiopia and Rwanda is expected to prompt the distribution across Africa. The flight with the shipment landed at the eWTP hub in Ethiopia, which will help facilitate transport and distribution of donations throughout the continent.
"Getting these donations to all 54 African countries, with diverse geographic conditions and different levels of infrastructure, is a great logistical and transportation challenge. We are working around the clock to make the delivery as fast as possible. " according to a Jack Ma Foundation statement.
"With our technology and eWTP Hubs, we are doing our utmost to quickly deliver these donations, so the supplies can reach those who need them most," added Song Juntao, Secretary-General of eWTP.
This donation is part of global efforts that the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations have promoted to support the areas of the world most affected by the COVID-19 crisis, sourcing and delivering various types of medical supplies to countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, United States, Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Slovenia.
Established by Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group, the Jack Ma Foundation was founded in 2014 and has been focusing on education, entrepreneurship, women's leadership, and the environment.
With a crowd of journalists and crews of different media houses, officials and representatives of national and international offices as well as Africa CDC experts attended the arrival and delivery ceremony held on the premises of the Ethiopian Airlines Cargo terminal in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia's Minister of Health Lia Tadesse said that the East African country has been receiving medical supplies and also learning experiences from China.
The Minister hailed the donation by Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation, saying it has significant impact on addressing the problem in the country.
"It is really commendable. What China has done is an amazing learning for the whole world. Not only this donation but we are also working very closely with the Chinese government to learn and also get other supplies," the minister said.
Speaking to Xinhua after the delivery ceremony, Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, said the donation is an exemplary move, serving as a lesson to the rest of the world and showing collaboration and joint efforts in the battle against the epidemic.
South Africa is one of those countries that have got the largest number of COVID-19 cases on the continent. South African Ambassador to Ethiopia and also to the African Union (AU), Edward Makaya, hailed the donation, saying it would go a long way to support Africa in dealing with the epidemic.
This contribution was going to assist not only South Africa, but the entire continent, in building the capacity to battle COVID-19, the ambassador said.
The WFP Representative and Country Director in Ethiopia, Steven Were Omamo, told Xinhua that the donation, which incorporated important stuff like the testing kits, contributed significantly to the battle against the epidemic in Africa.
"It is amazing and generous donation, and nothing could be done more important at this time for Africa. So, this initiative by the Jack Ma Foundation and Ethiopia's Prime Minister is fundamental," he said.
At least 1,198 COVID-19 cases have been reported in 41 African countries, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), disclosed on Sunday.
The Africa CDC, in its latest situation update, also revealed that the death toll in Africa due to COVID-19 is currently 37 across the continent.