Coronavirus: World Bank announces $12b in emergency aid as death toll tops 3,000

08:22 AM | 5 Mar, 2020
Coronavirus: World Bank announces $12b in emergency aid as death toll tops 3,000
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WASHINGTON – The World Bank has announced US$ 12 billion emergency aid for developing countries as coronavirus has spread to more than seventy countries around the world.

This financing is designed to help member countries take effective action to respond to and, where possible, lessen the tragic impacts posed by the COVID-19 (coronavirus), said a Wednesday's press statement by the World Bank.

Through this new fast track package, the World Bank Group will help developing countries strengthen health systems, including better access to health services to safeguard people from the epidemic, strengthen disease surveillance, bolster public health interventions, and work with the private sector to reduce the impact on economies.

The financial package, with financing drawn from across IDA, IBRD and IFC, will be globally coordinated to support country-based responses.

The COVID-19 support package will make available initial crisis resources of up to $12 billion in financing — $8 billion of which is new — on a fast track basis.

This comprises up to $2.7 billion new financing from IBRD; $1.3 billion from IDA, complemented by reprioritization of $2 billion of the Bank’s existing portfolio; and $6 billion from IFC, including $2 billion from existing trade facilities.

It will also include policy advice and technical assistance drawing on global expertise and country-level knowledge.

“We are working to provide a fast, flexible response based on developing country needs in dealing with the spread of COVID-19,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass.

“This includes emergency financing, policy advice, and technical assistance, building on the World Bank Group’s existing instruments and expertise to help countries respond to the crisis,”Malpass added.

The financial package will provide grants and low-interest loans from IDA for low income countries and loans from IBRD for middle income countries, using all of the Bank’s operational instruments with processing accelerated on a fast track basis, the statement added.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the US Congress approved emergency funding of $8.3bn to tackle the coronavirus with more than 100 people diagnosed with COVID-19 and 11 deaths. The upper house will vote on the measure on Thursday.

There are more than 93,000 cases around the world - the overwhelming majority in China - but as deaths are reported in Italy, Iran and the United States, authorities are considering new quarantine zones and travel restrictions.

In China alone, the number of people who have died from the virus has exceeded 3,000.