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UN Sends One Million Masks to Africa to Stop COVID-19 Spread

  • Children wait to receive food in Ocean View, Cape Town, South Africa, April 13, 2020.

    Children wait to receive food in Ocean View, Cape Town, South Africa, April 13, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 14 April 2020

A plane carrying vital COVID-19 medical supplies to all African nations landed in Addis Ababa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Food Program (WFP) Tuesday sent to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a plane with one million face masks, visors, goggles, gloves, and ventilation devices to treat 30,000 COVID-19 potential patients in Africa.


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Personal safety equipment will be specially designed to protect health workers who are on the front lines of fighting coronavirus.

Recipient countries for this donation include Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, Tanzania, and Sudan, the PMA spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said.

Medical equipment includes donations from the Jack Ma Foundation, which is led by the founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, and by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.

The flight is part of the logistics plan established by both UN agencies to increase the arrival of protective material across the planet.

With this program, WHO and WFP expect to transport at least 100 million medical masks and gloves, 25 million respirators, protective suits and visors, and 2.5 million diagnostic tests each month.

The UN agencies will use logistics centers in Belgium, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malaysia, Panama, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates to meet at least 30 percent of the world's medical equipment needs.

The WFP spokesperson stressed that at least US$350 million is urgently needed to support this shipping program. So far, however, her UN agency has only received US$84 million.

"If we cannot adequately supply aid centers to facilitate the storage and transportation of medical equipment, the response to COVID-19 in the most fragile areas is in jeopardy," Byrs warned.​​​​​​ 

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