World Bank approves US$1.9b in emergency funds for pandemic response

WASHINGTON: The World Bank on Thursday (Apr 2) said its board of executive directors approved an initial US$1.9 billion (£1.53 billion) in emergency funds for coronavirus response operations in 25 countries, and said it was moving quickly on projects in 40 others.

In addition, the World Bank said it was working to redeploy resources in existing World Bank financed projects worth up to US$1.7 billion. The Bank has said it is prepared to spend up to US$160 billion over the next 15 months to combat the pandemic.

India, the third largest economy in Asia, will receive US$1 billion to support better screening for the virus, contact tracing and laboratory diagnostics; pay for personal protective equipment; and set up new isolation wards for those infected.

World Bank Group President David Malpass said the Bank was moving quickly to strengthen the ability of developing countries to respond to the fast-spreading virus, and shorten the time to economic and social recovery.

“The poorest and most vulnerable countries will likely be hit the hardest, and our teams around the world remain focused on country-level and regional solutions to address the ongoing crisis,” Malpass said in a statement.

The funds approved on Thursday included US$200 million for Pakistan, US$100 million for Afghanistan and US$82.6 million for Ethiopia, the Bank said.

The Bank said it was also helping countries obtain urgently needed medical supplies by asking suppliers on behalf of governments.

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