The World Bank on Thursday approved a $1-billion emergency fund for India to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed 53 lives and infected over 2,000 others in the country.
The World Bank's first set of aid projects, amounting to $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.
"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 $200 million for Pakistan, $100 million for Afghanistan, $7.3 million for Maldives and $128.6 million for Sri Lanka.
The 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. 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.