COVID-19: World Bank sets aside $1.9 bln

India will receive $1 bln — the largest chunk of emergency financial assistance

Published: Friday 03 April 2020

The World Bank said on April 2, 2020 that it had approved $1.9 billion (bln) to help combat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The first group of projects support 25 countries. 

New, fast-tracked operations are on in more than 40 countries, it said. India will receive $1 bln — the largest chunk of emergency financial assistance. The bank said it will “support better screening, contact tracing, and laboratory diagnostics; procure personal protective equipment and set up new isolation wards”. 

In south Asia, it also approved $200 million (mln) for Pakistan, $100 mln for Afghanistan, $7.3 mln for the Maldives and $128.6 mln for Sri Lanka. The sum of $100 million will help Afghanistan to slow and limit the spread of COVID-19 through enhanced detection, surveillance, and laboratory systems, as well as strengthen essential health care delivery and intensive care.

Pakistan's amount will be used to support the country’s preparedness and emergency response in the health sector and include social protection and education measures to help the poor and vulnerable cope with the immediate impacts of the pandemic.

The World Bank said it was setting up another $160 bln over the next 15 months. This will back efforts on immediate health consequences and bolster economic recovery. It is also planning to redeploy the existing World Bank financed projects worth upto to $1.7 bln.

The broader economic programme will try to shorten the time to recovery, create conditions for growth, support small and medium enterprises, and help protect the poor and vulnerable. These acts will have a strong focus on poverty, with an emphasis on policy-based financing, and protecting the poorest households and the environment.

The Bank is also encouraging others to lend financial support, so that  developing countries can take health measures against the COVID-19 outbreak. COVID-19 has already infected more than a million people and killed around 54,000 in 204 countries.

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