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Yes! China supplied masks to Africa, But No Evidence Suggests They Are Infected


By Okechukwu Onuegbu
Claims: 1. China Supplies 2 million masks to Africa
               2. Infected masks to be distributed
               3 WHO says Africa must (should) prepare for the worst. 
While parts of the chain message are true, the author distorted the context. Over 6 million masks have been shipped to several countries in Africa. And some of these masks were defective, not infected, consequent on substandard material and hence returned. Further, the WHO Director-General, Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ cautionary message is factual, he made the statement in question.  However, his advisory was not to buttress the need to reject “infected shipped masks” from China; instead, to caution the health care systems in African countries against the forthcoming pandemic. 

 Full text:

According to WHO, COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. The disease which is akin to SARS-CoV1 virus has killed many people all over the world including China where it was first detected in 2019.
Interestingly, China is one of the technologically advanced countries in the world, and also among the renowned producers, users and suppliers of surgical masks. Recall, the WHO already recommended use of masks among the protective measures to be taken to contain the spread of COVID-19. We guess that this could be the reason social media posts, in recent time, got an influx of both factual and malicious reports on China and masks. 


Did China supply 2 million masks for Africans?

Medical masks, usually made of fibre, fabrics or gauze are one of the protective equipment the WHO recommended for use, to avoid spreading of coronavirus to others. The WHO among other things also urged doctors and other caregivers handling COVID-19 patients to wear medical masks with other protective kits, like hand gloves, gowns, etc.. 
Further, reports show that these masks can be manufactured by any country, state or individual using approved guidelines. Not to mention, the claim that China supplies or have supplied 2 million masks to Africa is not clear as the continent has 54 countries. Also, the report did not state its source(s) or at least name any of the countries, China supplied the said masks to. This omission calls the report’s integrity to account; for it is necessary, considering that all the countries in Africa now have confirmed COVID-19 cases. More so, some including Nigeria had equally banned travel to China, amongst other risk countries. 
Similarly, the report was not clear on who supplied the mask, whether it was the Chinese government, NGOs or individuals from China? 
Nevertheless, available records show that  Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma has supplied 1.1 million testing kits, 6 million masks, and 60,000 protective suits and face shields to 54 African countries. Also, the Chinese government’s official website says that the country has offered aid to countries in Africa and others like Ukraine.

Defective masks not infected masks

Premium Times reported that countries like the Netherlands rejected or recalled face masks imported from China for discovering that they were substandard (the manufacturers did not properly cover their defective filters). Spain, Turkey, Australia and others equally rejected and banned protective kits for various reasons not that they were infectious. New York Times has similar reports of how some companies in China and the US started churning out substandard COVID-19 protective kits and vaccines. 
But the Chinese government through its official website claimed the government was supplying quality COVID19 kits to the globe. The government later placed a ban on unauthorised exports of coronavirus kits, explaining at some points that some of the products were actually produced for non-medical use. In all, the guidelines on the use of face masks by WHO show that improper use of it is disastrous to both the caregivers and non-infected persons.

Be prepared!

Yes, on March 18, 2020, the WHO Director-General, Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Africa should prepare for the worst as the coronavirus begins to spread locally. Ghebreyesus, who is from Ethiopia (East Africa,) was also quoted as saying “I think Africa should wake up. My continent should wake up,” He was reacting to spread of coronavirus all over the continent as South Africa that day had 116 cases. South Africa’s health minister, Zweli Mkhize, also described the outcome as explosive” as fourteen of the cases reported that day were from local transmission out of which six patients were children under 10 years. The reports were also published by the New York Times, Aljazeera, etc. 


From the first verified claim, you would discover that an individual, Jack Ma from China has actually supplied 6 million masks (not 2 million as claimed) to Africa. Also, the Chinese government has supplied some COVID-19 protective kits and others worldwide but no data on how many of them were sent to Africa specifically.
The second verified claim shows that there are no coronavirus-infected masks being distributed to Africa either by the government or an individual from China. We only discovered that some countries mainly Asian and European countries rejected or recalled products either supplied to them by the Chinese government or being imported from China for being substandard.
It was also found from the third verified claim that the Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged the continent to prepare for the worst while he was reacting to an astronomical rise in cases of the pandemic and its devastating impacts on the continent.

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