In this file photo taken on October 15, 2019 Jack Ma, co-founder and former executive chair of Alibaba Group, speaks during the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Singapore.
AFP/Roslan Rahman
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma pledges 500,000 face masks to Philippines
( - March 19, 2020 - 8:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — Chinese billionaire businessman Jack Ma pledged to donate half a million face masks to the Philippines as the country faces a shortage of protective products.  

Delivery of the masks is expected to start later this week or early next week, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in a statement Thursday.

“I want to personally send my best regards and hope we can do something for the Philippines to fight this virus. I hope that I can do something more. For now, we have decided to give 500,000 masks to the Philippines,” the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba said, as quoted by Dominguez.

Ma also provided a downloadable electronic handbook for health workers fighting the spread of the new coronavirus.

Ma, China’s richest man, earlier pledged to donate 50,000 COVID-19 test kits in partnership with Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s foundation.

The rapid spread of the virus in the Philippines has prompted a nationwide shopping spree for protective products, particularly face masks, alcohol and hand sanitizers, causing shortages across the country.

The Philippines reported 217 COVID-19 infections, with 17 deaths. There are only eight recoveries so far.

Ma said his organizations had helped provide supplies to virus-affected countries such as Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Spain and the United States.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has infected 207,860 people across the globe and killed more than 8,600. — Gaea Katreena Cabico with report from Agence France-Presse

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