World Bank Unveils $12b Aid Package To Fight Coronavirus
London, March 4, 2020 (AltAfrica)–The World Bank unveiled a $12 billion aid package on Tuesday that will provide fast-track funds to help countries combat the coronavirus outbreak.
“The goal is to provide fast, effective action that responds to country needs,” World Bank President David Malpass told reporters.
The World Bank intervention comes barely 24 hours after UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock released US$15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help fund global efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus.
The announcement came as the World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded the global risk of the coronavirus outbreak to “very high” – its top level of risk assessment. The WHO has said there is still a chance of containing the virus if its chain of transmission is broken.
He said it is critical to “recognize the extra burden on poor countries” least equipped in the struggle to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The funds, some of which are targeted to the world’s poorest nations, can be used for medical equipment or health services and will include expertise and policy advice, the bank said in a statement.
The virus that erupted in central China in December has killed more than 3,000 worldwide and infected over 90,000 people.
Malpass said the money — $8 billion of which is new — will go to countries that request help. The bank has been in contact with many member nations, but he did not specify which are likely to be the first to receive aid.
“The point is to move fast. Speed is needed to save lives,” he said in a conference call.
“We want to make the best use of the World Bank’s extensive resources and global expertise and the historical knowledge of crisis,” he said, citing similar crisis funding to combat the Ebola and Zika outbreaks in recent years. AP