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COVID-19 pandemic - Foreign aid starts coming in | 26 March 2020

COVID-19 pandemic - Foreign aid starts coming in

Humanitarian aid from international donors to help contain and mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the country has started to come in with the arrival, yesterday, of two cargo planes loaded with protective gear and medicine against the virus.

These medical supplies from the donors are to help Seychelles in being better equipped to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and to protect its front liners.

The first plane to land at 2.30pm yesterday at the Seychelles International Airport was a cargo plane from Abu Dhabi with a special donation of eleven tonnes of medical supplies from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces from the government and people of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The eleven tonnes of medical supplies comprise coveralls, isolation gowns, gloves, hand sanitizers, masks and other medical items.

In a press communique from the UAE embassy in Seychelles, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan stated that UAE holds Seychelles at heart and feels the pain and struggles of the Seychellois people as the pandemic hits the nation. He acknowledges that it is hard as a small island state to overcome this unforeseen and difficult situation, which has become even harder now that most airlines have reduced or suspended their flights to Seychelles, in view of the heavy travel restrictions or bans across the globe.

He further said that Seychelles is one of the nations that put in place precautionary measures even before COVID-19 reached its shores and has so far successfully been able to control the spreading of the virus in the community and across the nation.

“In the wake of a scarcity of resources, the UAE government has stepped in to lend a hand to Seychelles to ensure that it surmounts this pandemic,” he added.

His Highness also expressed that “these tough times that we are facing with the rest of the world shall pass. However, we must all have patience. The UAE is faring well, all thanks to the early efforts and measures in place to face this virus”.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan re-affirmed his country’s commitment to continue to provide humanitarian aid to Seychelles, as well as other countries in these difficult moments.

At 3.40pm, an Ethiopian cargo plane was the next plane to land at the international airport carrying a two-tonne consignment to fight the coronavirus in the forms of medical testing kits and medicine. The medical consignment is a gift from Jack Ma Foundation based in China.

The foundation, run by the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, is donating COVID-19 medical equipment to African Union member States.

This relief initiative was launched by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr Abiy Ahmed, the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation as part of actions towards implementation of the Africa joint continental strategy for COVID-19 led by the African Union (AU) through Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

Seychelles and all the remaining 53 African states are receiving 20,000 test kits each, as well as 100,000 masks and 1,000 medical use protective suits and face shields.

The consignment of medical gear is being distributed from Ethiopia and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed himself is overseeing the distribution to other member states.

The foundation says it will start providing online training materials for COVID-19 clinical treatment to medical institutions in the continent.

So far, 43 Africa states can test and diagnose for the virus.

Most of them are depending on test kits and training from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jack Ma believes Africa can stay “one step ahead” of the coronavirus if the continent moves quickly.

“We can take precautions now and get prepared ahead of time, as Africa can benefit from the experience and lessons from other countries that were earlier hit hard by the virus,” said Alibaba group founder Jack Ma.

“This crisis is proving to be more difficult and longer-lasting than any of us had expected. We must make every effort to get prepared. The past two months have shown us that if we take it very seriously and are proactive, we are more than capable of containing the virus.

“Now it is as if we were all living in the same forest on 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. We need to take action now!” added Jack Ma in a statement.

Over the past few weeks, his private charity and Alibaba foundation have collaborated to source and donate essential materials to combat coronavirus to afflicted areas in Japan, Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain.

Seychelles’ ambassador in Addis Ababa, David Pierre, assisted with the prompt delivery of the medical supplies via a special Ethiopian Airline flight. Ethiopian Airline delivered the medical supplies to all AU member states, as part of its contribution to the fight against COVID-19 in Africa.

The government of Seychelles expressed its gratitude to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia for its cooperation in this very important operation.

All of the medical supplies and equipment arriving on the two cargo planes were unloaded onto pick-up trucks, including some army trucks, and after, under army escort, were transported to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) warehouses on Bois De Rose.

The accompanying photos taken by our photographer Thomas Meriton show the unloading process of the various consignments of cargo at the airport.


Patrick Joubert

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