Chinese billionaire has sent essential supplies to African countries and the US, and plans to help Latin America.

Russia has received more than a million face masks and 200,000 coronavirus testing kits as a gift from Jack Ma, becoming the latest country to welcome a donation from the Chinese billionaire businessman amid the global health crisis.

Calling Ma “a real friend”, the Defence Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the cofounder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba had spoken by telephone to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and told him how touched he had been by Moscow’s own help for China.

The foundations of Alibaba and Ma said on Wednesday that they had sent medical equipment to Russian country.

Ma’s gift had been delivered in a Russian air force plane that had flown from China.

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he hoped Russia would defeat coronavirus in two to three months if it imposed tough measures, as authorities suspended international flights, ordered most shops in Moscow to shut and halted some church services.

Russia on Thursday reported 182 new coronavirus cases, its biggest one-day rise yet, bringing its official tally to 840.

Ma has previously donated supplies to countries in Africa that are particularly vulnerable to the virus, via Ethiopia, and the United States.

He also plans to send essential equipment, such as masks, testing kits and ventilators to countries in Latin America.