Washington: The World Bank has approved USD 1 billion emergency funding for India to help it tackle the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed 76 lives and infected 2,500 people in the country.
The World Bank's first set of aid projects, amounting to USD 1.9 billion, will assist 25 countries, and new operations are moving forward in over 40 nations using the fast-track process, the bank said on Thursday.
The largest chunk of the emergency financial assistance has gone to India USD 1 billion.
"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 after its Board of Executive Directors approved the first set of emergency support operations for developing countries around the world, using a dedicated, fast-track facility for COVID-19 response.
In South Asia, the World Bank also approved USD 200 million for Pakistan, USD 100 million for Afghanistan, USD 7.3 million for the Maldives and USD 128.6 million for Sri Lanka.
The World Bank said it was now working to grant up to USD 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.
"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," Malpass said.
According to the bank, USD 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, USD 200 million will support preparedness and emergency response in the health sector and include social protection and education measures, the bank said.
A total of 1,002,159 COVID-19 cases have been reported across more than 175 countries and territories with 51,485 deaths reported so far, according to Johns Hopkins University data....