ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia 

The United States on Tuesday handed over 250 state-of-the-art ventilators to Ethiopia to support the latter’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump had made the pledge to send ventilators to Ethiopia during the April 25 telephonic conversation with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The pledge drew criticism from many quarters in Washington who said the US, the most severely affected country by the novel virus, had a high demand for the equipment.

“It is a wonderful feeling to know that our states are loaded up with ventilators, many brand new and high quality just off of our production lines, and that we are now in a position to help other countries that so desperately need them,” Trump had said in defense of his decision back then.

After handing over the ventilators and accompanying equipment such as oxygenators, Michael Raynor, the US ambassador to Ethiopia, said: “Today, the United States reinforces its unwavering commitment to the Ethiopian people.”

“This donation is a critical addition to the billions of dollars in resources and expertise that the American people have invested in Ethiopia’s health system in recent years,” he added.

According to the ambassador, the ventilators were manufactured just last week.

The US has made a financing of $71 million for Ethiopia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic so far, according to a joint press release by the US Embassy in Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health.

“The United States and Ethiopia share a long history of cooperation, and the support of the US government over the years has helped strengthen and enhance the Ethiopian health system,” Minister of Health Dr. Lia Tadesse said at the ceremony.

Ethiopia, the seventh most affected country in Africa from COVID-19, reported 583 new virus cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the caseload to 19,289. Some 26 new deaths, meanwhile, pushed the virus-linked death toll to 336.

Last week, the premier said the country was better prepared to deal with the outbreak.

The East African nation is in a state of emergency since April, but has not locked down due to economic concerns. Last month, it purchased 200 ventilators from China.

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