African countries are expected to seek more help from Beijing to contain the coronavirus during a summit to be hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday. China’s foreign ministry announced on Tuesday that Xi would host African countries in a summit via videoconference to address the joint efforts of China and African countries to fight the coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease Covid-19. The ministry said the meeting was proposed by China, South Africa, the chair of the African Union, and Senegal, which co-chairs the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. Xi is expected to revisit promises he made during the World Health Assembly (WHA) last month. These included establishing a mechanism for Chinese hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals and funding the building of the headquarters of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to help the continent ramp up its disease preparedness and capacity to control outbreaks. Leaders from the African Union member countries and the African Union Commission chairman have been invited to the summit. António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations, and WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will also attend as special guests. At the WHA meeting in May, Xi said China had sent medical supplies and help to more than 50 African countries and the African Union. Five Chinese medical expert teams had also been sent to the African continent. In all, 46 resident Chinese medical teams were already in Africa helping with Covid-19 containment efforts, Xi said. Stephen Chan, professor of politics and international relations at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, said the meeting was a goodwill gesture by China that was also intended to bring a long-term sense of openness about future Chinese policies towards Africa. China is Africa’s biggest trading partner, having overtaken the United States in 2009. Last year's two-way trade stood at US$208 billion, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. “I expect at this stage [China will give] more funding and, above all, equipment and some personnel to help deal with Covid-19,” Chan said. In the past three months, China has donated millions of coronavirus test kits, personal protective equipment and medical supplies to help African countries fight the disease. Chinese companies, including Huawei, engineering firm Sinohydro, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation and the Jack Ma and Alibaba foundations, have also donated millions of test kits, medical supplies and equipment for African health care facilities. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post . Chinese doctors have held videoconferences with their African counterparts to share their experiences preventing and treating the novel coronavirus. With traditional donors such as the US and Europe struggling to contain the virus at home, China is filling the void in Africa, emerging as a key humanitarian aid provider on the continent. But some critics, including the administration of US President Donald Trump, have accused Beijing of trying to shift the global focus away from missteps in handling the initial outbreak. As of Monday, Africa had recorded more than 254,000 Covid-19 cases – the number has doubled in the past three weeks – and over 6,700 coronavirus-related deaths. Experts warn that although the continent might not have registered a high number of deaths as witnessed in other parts of the world, cases needing hospital admission could rise and overwhelm health systems.