Roger Federer has donated $1.7 million (NZD) to vulnerable families in his home nation of Switzerland as athletes continue to stand up in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The Swiss share a border with a virus hotspot in northern Italy and the 20-time grand slam winner is answering the call to help.

"These are challenging times for everyone and nobody should be left behind," Federer wrote on Instagram. "Mirka and I have personally decided to donate one million Swiss Francs for the most vulnerable families in Switzerland. Our contribution is just a start. We hope that others might join in supporting more families in need. Together we can overcome this crisis! Stay healthy!"

Roger Federer. Photo / Photosport
Roger Federer. Photo / Photosport

"We must help families in need quickly and unbureaucratically," he added. "Mirka and I have donated to a newly established emergency assistance fund for families in Switzerland. The fund is managed by Winterhilfe, a trusted partner of our foundation and highly experienced to support vulnerable people for decades. From tomorrow March 26, the Fund For Families In Need will be functional and ready to make contributions such as vouchers for food and child care services and where necessary."

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UFC star Conor McGregor has been leading the way in his native Ireland, encouraging politicians to do more and on Thursday announcing he was purchasing $1.8 million (NZD) in personal protective equipment for health care workers in hospitals in the Leinster region.

"Where we would be without these brave men and women, I do not know," McGregor wrote. "May God bless over them and keep them safe."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

McGregor posted a conversation he had with Irish politician Paschal Donohoe where he urged the government to shut down work sites and step up screening at airports.

"I urge all the way!" McGregor wrote. "'All in' is the term we must use here. Bit by bit will cost us lives. To see what is happening here in Ireland and all across the entire globe, is heartbreaking to me. I pray. God speed Minister and thank you for the message, and your service to our nation."

It comes after it was revealed football star Cristiano Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes are funding three intensive care units for coronavirus patients at hospitals in Portugal.

A hospital in Porto said the contribution from the Juventus forward and his agent will pay for 15 intensive care beds fully equipped with ventilators and other necessary equipment. Another two units with 10 beds each will be set up in Lisbon.

Media reports said Ronaldo and Mendes are contributing more than 1.8 million (NZD) for the three units.

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— with AP