COVID … World Bank to give India $1billion to fight Covid epidemic; PM calls for blackout on Sunday

NEW DELHI: World Bank has announced a $1billion emergency fund for India to push the nation’s fight against Covid-19 virus and help overcome the health crisis thereof. Reports said the bank’s first set of aid, totaling $1.9billion, will be distributed among 25 nations, the largest chunk going to India.
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“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 approved $200 million for Pakistan, $100 million for Afghanistan, $7.3 million for Maldives and $128.6 million for Sri Lanka.

 Blackout at 9pm Sunday

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Modi on Friday appealed to the people to observe a blackout at 9pm on Sunday. “Switch off your lights at home, go to front door or balcony, light a lamp, candle or shine a mobile flashlight for nine minutes,” the PM urged people in a video address aired on TV and radio. He also urged the people to continue maintaining social distancing norms. -IHN-NN
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.


“Declaring a lockdown when there was relatively a small number of cases in India gave the country time to come to terms with the new virus,” says Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) special envoy on the disease
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. –Agencies, IHN-NN

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