More African nations confirmed their first cases of the coronavirus and shut borders amid fears of the disease’s impact on fragile health systems, as Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma pledged to donate to the continent.
Thirty African countries – more than half the continent – are now treating nearly 400 patients with coronavirus, after Tanzania, Liberia, Benin and Somalia said they registered their first cases. Health experts are concerned the continent’s often dilapidated health infrastructure will struggle to cope as cases mount.
“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 COV-19 pandemic in Africa,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement.
The foundation will send 1.1 million testing kits, 6 million masks and 60,000 protective suits and face shields to Ethiopia for distribution to Africa’s 54 nations, it said.
Many African nations, including some without reported cases, have ordered tougher control measures, including bans on public gatherings, halting flights and closing schools and universities.