The Alibaba co-founder announced today that the e-commerce giant’s philanthropic arm and his namesake foundation have joined forces to provide 500,000 testing kits and one million face masks to the United States, which has confirmed 1,215 cases of the illness and 36 deaths.
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In a statement shared on social media, the Jack Ma Foundation added that it had collaborated with the Alibaba Foundation over the past few weeks to “source and donate much-needed materials” to countries hit hard by the spread of COVID-19, among them Japan, Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain.
Through a donation of 500,000 testing kits and 1 million masks, we join hands with Americans in these difficult times. pic.twitter.com/tGviVhC6Gx
— Jack Ma Foundation (@foundation_ma) March 13, 2020
“Drawing from my own country’s experience, speedy and accurate testing and adequate personal protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in preventing the spread of the virus,” the memo read. “We hope that our donation can help Americans fight against the pandemic.”
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 — which originated in China in December — a pandemic. The agency noted that it had not chosen to use the term “lightly or carelessly,” describing a “pandemic” as the “worldwide spread of a new disease.” (The last time it named an outbreak as such was in 2009, when the H1N1 influenza sickened nearly a quarter of the global population.)
So far in the U.S, roughly 14,000 tests have been conducted, according to The Atlantic‘s Covid Tracking Project, which tracks state-level testing data. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently not publishing full testing data.) During a congressional hearing on Thursday, CDC Director Robert Redfield said that all Americans will have access to free testing and treatment, regardless of their insurance situation.
“This crisis presents a huge challenge to all humankind in a globalized world,” Ma added in the statement. “The pandemic we face today can no longer be resolved by any individual country. Rather, we need to combat the virus by working hand in hand.”
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