ADB to give $4 mn to member countries in Asia, Pacific to fight coronavirus

Topics ADB | Asia | Coronavirus

Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus at a bus garage in Seoul | PTI

Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a total of USD 4 million (about Rs 29 crore) to help developing countries in Asia and Pacific to fight the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Manila-headquartered multilateral funding agency had earlier in February announced USD 2 million for fighting the disease and approved another USD 2 million in late February.

The Asian Development Bank has approved a further USD 2 million to help developing countries in Asia and the Pacific contain the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and improve resilience to this and other communicable diseases, it said in a release last week.

The funds will be available for all ADB developing member countries in updating and implementing their pandemic response plans.

ADB said the assistance will be for purposes including buying emergency supplies and equipment, assessing health system and economic impacts to improve future resilience, and coordinating better regionally to prevent, detect, and respond to animal and human disease outbreaks.

The work will be conducted in close collaboration with the World Health Organization.

"The severity of the COVID-19 outbreak is escalating, and past disease outbreaks have had large impacts on social and economic development," ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono said.

"ADB's funding will help countries catalyze efforts to mitigate further damage to the health of families and economies and position them to better respond to the current and future outbreaks," he added.

The first tranche assistance was to strengthen the immediate response capacity in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

ADB said over the longer term, it can be scaled up to focus on supporting pandemic preparedness and building resilience.

ADB also provided a private sector loan of up to CNY130 million (USD 18.6 million) to Wuhan, PRC-based Jointown Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd to enhance the distribution and supply of essential medicines and protective equipment.

"Past epidemics have shown that impacts can rapidly extend to all areas of a country's economy, triggering fiscal shocks with long-term negative consequences that threaten stability and economic growth," ADB said.

Countries and businesses that rely on tourism are particularly vulnerable. Trade and supply chains also suffer, it added.



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