The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Tuesday approved USD 1.5 billion loan to India to help fund its fight against coronavirus pandemic. The loan has been sanctioned in order to support immediate priorities such as disease containment and prevention, as well as social protection for the poor and economically vulnerable sections.
ADP President Masatsugu Asakawa said that the bank is fully committed to supporting the Indian government in its response to this unprecedented challenge. “The quick-disbursing fund is part of a larger package of support that ADB will provide in close coordination with the government and other development partners.
“We are determined to support India’s Covid-19 response programs and ensure that they provide effective support to the people of India, especially the poor and vulnerable,” Asakawa said in a statement.
The death toll due to the coronavirus pandemic crossed the 900-mark to reach 934 on Tuesday while the total number of infections soared to 29,435, including the 6,868 people who have been treated and discharged so far. As many as 62 deaths and 1,543 cases have been reported in the last 24 hours.
The Manila-headquartered multilateral agency said its Covid-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program will contribute directly to the improvement of access to health facilities and care, as well as social protection for more than 800 million people, including families below the poverty line, farmers, health care workers, women, senior citizens, people with disabilities, low wage earners, and construction workers.
“India has taken proactive and decisive measures to contain Covid-19 to protect lives, including the implementation of social distancing, community quarantine, and testing and tracking,” it said.
As per the loan agreement, insurance coverage for all types of health workers engaged in the Covid-19 response is also included. Around 65 per cent of the package is in the form of direct social assistance and protection to the poor and vulnerable, including women.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, the World Bank had approved an initial USD 1.9 billion in emergency funds for coronavirus response operations in 25 developing countries, with more than half the aid earmarked to help fight the fast-spreading disease in India.
In addition, the bank said it was working to redeploy resources in existing World Bank financed projects worth up to $1.7 billion. The bank has said it is prepared to spend up to $160 billion over the next 15 months to combat the pandemic.
World Bank Group President David Malpass said, “The poorest and most vulnerable countries will likely be hit the hardest.”
India, the third largest economy in Asia, will receive the largest share of the initial funding – $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, the bank said.
The funds approved on Thursday also included $200 million for Pakistan, $129 million for Sri Lanka; $100 million for Afghanistan and $82.6 million for Ethiopia, the bank said.
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