COVID-19 crisis: India gets $1 billion emergency fund from World Bank; global cases cross 1 million
The World Bank has approved an initial $1.9 billion in emergency funds for coronavirus response operations in 25 developing countries, with more than half the aid going to India.
The World Bank has approved $1 billion emergency financing for India to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed 53 lives and infected over 2,000 others in the country. The bank's initial emergency funding of $1.9 billion will help 25 developing countries in carrying out coronavirus response operations. This comes as global coronavirus cases surpassed 1 million with more than 52,000 deaths.
The pandemic has further exploded in the United States -- more than 1,000 died there in the past day. The death toll also climbed in Spain and Italy.
To help tackle the crisis, the World Bank’s largest chunk of the emergency financial assistance has gone to India. "In India, USD 1 billion emergency financing will support better screening, contact tracing, and laboratory diagnostics; procure personal protective equipment; and set up new isolation wards," the World Bank said on Thursday after its Board of Executive Directors approved the first set of emergency support operations, using a dedicated, fast-track facility for COVID-19 response.
In South Asia, the World Bank also approved $200 million for Pakistan, $100 million for Afghanistan, $7.3 million for Maldives and $128.6 million for Sri Lanka.
The bank said $82.6 million was approved Ethiopia. Argentina, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya and Yemen, among others, will receive smaller amounts.
The World Bank said it was also responding to widespread supply chain disruptions by helping countries obtain urgently needed medical supplies from suppliers in China and elsewhere.
The World Bank said it is now working to grant up to $160 billion over the next 15 months to support measures to tackle the pandemic which will focus on the immediate health consequences and bolster economic recovery.
The broader economic program will aim to shorten the time to recovery, create conditions for growth, support small and medium enterprises, and help protect the poor and vulnerable.
There will be a strong poverty focus in these operations, with an emphasis on policy-based financing, and protecting the poorest households and the environment, it said.
"The World Bank Group is taking broad, fast action to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and we already have health response operations moving forward in over 65 countries," said World Bank Group President David Malpass.
"We are working to strengthen (the) developing nations' ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic 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.
According to the bank, $100 million will support 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.
In Pakistan, $200 million will support 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 bank said.
Responding to widespread supply chain disruptions, the World Bank is helping countries access critically needed medical supplies by reaching out to suppliers on behalf of the governments.
The World Bank is encouraging others to provide financial support to developing countries for the COVID-19 health response, said the media statement.
GLOBAL CASES PASS 1 MILLION
Italy has recorded most deaths, more than 13,900, followed by Spain (more than 10,000). The US had the most confirmed cases – 240,000 -- of any country, with over 5,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Since the virus was first recorded in China late last year, the pandemic has spread around the world, prompting governments to close businesses, ground airlines and order hundreds of millions of people to stay at home to try to slow the contagion.
Amid unprecedented government steps to prop up economies battered by the outbreak, US weekly jobless claims jumped to a record 6.6 million, double the record from the previous week.
In Italy, which hit a daily peak of 6,557 new cases on March 21 and accounts for around 28% of all global fatalities, the death toll climbed to 13,915 on Thursday. But it was the fourth consecutive day in which the number of new cases stayed within a range of 4,050-4,782, seeming to confirm government hopes that the epidemic had hit a plateau.
In hard-hit Spain, the death toll rose to more than 10,000 on Thursday after a record 950 people died overnight, but health officials were encouraged by a slowdown in daily increases in infections and deaths.
Spain has shed jobs at a record pace since it went into lockdown to fight the coronavirus, social security data showed on Thursday, with some 900,000 workers having lost their jobs since mid-March.