Jack Ma, an unlikely hero in the time of coronavirus

Jack Ma, an unlikely hero in the time of coronavirus
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma during a past public appearance. PHOTO | COURTESY

The first coronavirus case in the world, as reported by multiple international media outlets, was recorded in Wuhan, China as far back as November last year.

When the disease slowly started spreading towards neighbouring countries and continents, the world was thrown into a state of panic over how it would be combated or, in the very least, controlled.

In the midst of all this emerged an unlikely hero in the form of billionaire investor Jack Ma, who hails from the very country where the novel Covid-19 patient zero was reported.

Jack Ma, China’s richest man, started by dispatching a shipment of masks and coronavirus testing kits to Japan, Korea, Italy, Spain and Iran which had been hard hit.

He then set sail for the United States, a move many viewed by many as strange given the country’s cold relationship with China, his home country.

Jack Ma dropped 500,000 testing kits and 1 million masks at President Donald Trump’s doorstep saying – in a statement – that “we need to combat the virus by working hand-in-hand” further adding “united we stand, divided we fall” in what possibly helped smooth over over relations between the two nations.

On March 16, the Alibaba co-founder donated 1.1 million testing kits, 6 million masks and 60,000 protective suits and face shields for distribution to all the 54 countries in Africa.

“Now it is as if we were all living in the same forest of fire. As members of the global community, it would be irresponsible of us to sit on the fence, panic, ignore facts or fail to act,” he said.

Since then, the businessman has donated over 1.8 million masks and testing kits to Asian countries; 2 million to Latin American countries; and dispatched a second donation of 500 ventilators, 200,000 face shields, 2,000 thermometers, 1 million swabs and 500,000 gloves to Africa, among others.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, speaking during a press conference on Wednesday, said the second consignment had already arrived in the country.

“We have received a consignment of some 18,900 swabs and viral transportation medium; 18,912 extraction kits; 3,390 medical disposal protective clothing, ventilation machines, thermometer guns and medical gloves from Jack Ma,” he announced.

Jack Ma has since also launched an online platform for medical professionals around the world to share information on how to fight the virus.

In doing all this amid the coronavirus pandemic, the businessman has signed his name into history books as one of the very few vastly wealthy individuals on the planet who did not just stand by while a virus ravaged the world, one nation at a time.

Jack Ma, by making his voice heard and subsequently putting his money where his mouth is, has stamped his name in the coronavirus heroes hall of fame.

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Story By Ian Omondi
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