China said on Monday it is aware of calls for a debt relief program for African countries, and is willing to study the possibility with the international community.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the comments via a fax sent to Reuters on Monday in response to questions on China’s plans for debt held by African countries amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Reuters reported earlier that Beijing is likely to endorse a temporary freeze on debt payments by African countries as part of an expected agreement by the Group of 20 (G20) major economies this week.
On Tuesday, South Africa received medical equipment from China to fight COVID-19. China has committed to help South Africa with medical equipment to fight the spread of COVID-19.
The East Asian country is a trade partner to South Africa and a Brics affiliate with the biggest economy in that group of countries.
On Tuesday, China provided 2.5 tons worth of equipment including surgical masks, protective gowns and thermometers.
The complete list includes 10 000 N95 masks, 50 000 surgical disposable masks, 2000 medical protective gowns, 500 infrared thermometers, 2000 medical goggles, 10 000 disposable gloves and 10 000 medical shoes.
South Africa has been the hardest-hit country in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 2272 confirmed positive cases since its first reported case on 5 March 2020. So far, the country has managed to minimise the number of deaths from the worldwide pandemic, with only 27 people succumbing from this new strain of the coronavirus.
On Monday, Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize together with experts and academics in the health sector presented a report that shows how the country has been dealing with the pandemic.
Professor Salim Abdool Karim, an Epidemiological expert has lauded the country in how they have been dealing with COVID-19 so far.
“SA has a unique component to its response. Every other country has simply had to wait. They saw these cases coming into the hospital and that’s how they recognised they had an epidemic. In SA we have chosen to go a different route. We’ve chosen to be proactive. We’ve chosen to go out there and do active case finding. We’re not gonna wait until they come to the hospital sick. We’re gonna find them before they get to a hospital.”
With the winter season fast approaching, the country is cautious not to take things lightly as the season can bring a rise to the number of people contracting the virus.
Karim has also suggested voluntary lockdown for the aged and vulnerable, suggesting that they remain on a self-imposed lockdown until September.
The equipment donated by China will help in curbing the spread, and assist in equipping medical personnel in the fight against the disease.