Turkey donated mechanical ventilators to Somalia to help in Mogadishu’s efforts against the novel coronavirus pandemic, a senior Turkish official said on Monday.

Turkish Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank said the ventilators had become a “breath” for Somalia, with many low-income countries hard-pressed in treating COVID-19 due to medical equipment shortages.

Ankara-based biotech firm BIOSYS began mass-producing a Turkish indigenous respirator last month with the support of technology firms Baykar, Arcelik and Aselsan. The first 100 devices have since been delivered and the production of 5,000 more is expected by the end of May.

Ankara will continue its efforts in its so-called national technology move to continue to realize its goals and “give hope for our country and our friends,” Varank said on Twitter.

With severe shortness of breath being a hallmark of the coronavirus, the global pandemic has increased the need worldwide for mechanical ventilators.

Despite many countries instituting protectionist policies, Turkey has assisted other nations with masks, gloves and personal protective equipment.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 187 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.

The pandemic has killed more than 247,900 worldwide, with total infections over 3.5 million and recoveries surpassing 1.1 million people, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.

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