Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest will spend millions of dollars on procuring medical supplies and equipment to help Australia through the COVID-19 pandemic.
His philanthropic organisation Minderoo Foundation and Fortescue Metals Group, which he founded and chairs, are chartering three aircraft from China to deliver more than 90 tonnes of medical supplies to Perth this week.
It includes more than one million face masks, 400,000 surgical masks, 2.3 million medical-grade gloves, 100,000 nasal swabs, 200,000 medical coveralls, 10,000 medical goggles, 5000 touchless thermometers and more than 30 intensive care unit-grade ventilators.
Mr Forrest plans to outlay $160 million but if the protective equipment is found to be fit for purpose, it will be sold at cost to state and federal governments.
Mr Forrest, who has deep business ties in China, said more deliveries would follow in coming weeks "until we can take the panic and the stress out of the medical industries".
"We are aiming to resolve the extreme shortage of personal protective equipment," he told reporters on Wednesday.
Western Australia's health department has promised to purchase any protective equipment found to be fit for purpose.
"The WA Government will reimburse Minderoo Foundation at cost for the supplies purchased so that (it) can further leverage its incredible commitment of up to $160 million over the coming weeks and continue to source these critical medical supplies for Australia," Health Minister Roger Cook said.
Minderoo is also working with Chinese genomics company BGI Group to dramatically increase WA's coronavirus testing capacity.
It is hoped the plan would allow authorities to test up to 10,000 people per day.
"This is being prepared and will be implemented shortly," Mr Forrest said.
He said his procurement team had been toiling through 20 hour days amid immense competition from other nations for the supplies.
"It has been a battle," he said.
Minderoo Foundation co-chair Nicola Forrest said the supplies would be equitably distributed in primary and aged care, private and public hospital systems and other frontline services with the greatest need, with WA Health coordinating.
Australian Associated Press