Coronavirus: World Bank pledges $12bn in emergency aid

World Bank pledges $12bn in emergency aid for Coronavirus fight in Developing Countries

The World Bank has pledged $12bn (£ 9.4bn) in coronavirus distributing assistance to developing countries.

The emergency package includes loans, grants and technical assistance which are low cost.

The action comes as world leaders commit to protecting their countries from the economic impact of the outbreak.

This follows warnings that slowdown from the outbreak could cause recession for countries.

The aim of the assistance is to help countries strengthen their response to the crisis in public health and to collaborate with the private sector to reduce the economic impact.

“What we’re trying to do is limit the transmission of the disease,” World Bank Group President David Malpass told the BBC.

The group said it would prioritize providing assistance to the poorest and most at-risk countries to counter the effects of the epidemic that has spread to more than 70 countries worldwide.

Half of the kit is from the International Finance Division of the bank, which is collaborating with the private sector. Around $4bn of the $12bn is being transferred from funds already available.

Over 92,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed by authorities worldwide, of which more than 80,000 are in China. Nearly 3,000 people died worldwide, the vast majority of them in China.

In recent weeks new infections and deaths in China have declined due to stringent quarantine measures. The country recorded 38 more deaths on Wednesday but a 3rd consecutive day decline in fresh cases.

South Korea remains the worst-hit country outside China, which recorded 516 new confirmed infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 5,328. The death toll of the nation is 33.

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“The point is to move fast; speed is needed to save lives,” Mr Malpass said in conference with reporters. “There are scenarios where much more resources may be required. We’ll adapt our approach and resources as needed.”

The Dow Jones shed nearly 800 points on Tuesday, paring Monday’s big gains. This was despite a rare emergency move by the US Federal Reserve to cut interest rates by 0.5% amid fears over the impact of the coronavirus.

It was the biggest cut since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.

In other developments:

  • Finance ministers from the G7 countries said they were “ready to take action”, including fiscal measures to aid the response to the virus and support the global economy
  • Twitter told its employees to work from home
  • Google cancelled its annual developer conference

How are different countries being affected?

In an effort to combat the spread of the virus in crowded prisons, Iran has reportedly released more than 54,000 inmates. In under two weeks, the country has reported 77 deaths.

The health ministry said on Tuesday that for the second day in a row, the number of confirmed cases had risen by more than 50 per cent. It now stands at 2,336 although it is assumed that the actual figure is much higher.

Meanwhile, in the past 24 hours, Italy has recorded a 50 per cent death leap, with a total of 79. Many deaths happen to be in Lombardy.

There are now nine deaths confirmed in the US. All those killed had lived in the state of Washington.

And in Spain, an autopsy of a 69-year-old man who died on February 13 confirmed that he was diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2, a study from local media. It is the first virus-fatality in the world.

How deadly is Covid-19?

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus seems to have a particular effect on those over 60 years of age and people who are already sick. In the first large-scale study of more than 44,000 cases in China, death rates were 10 times higher among very elderly people compared to middle-aged people.

The WHO also cautioned that prices of protective equipment such as surgical masks and gloves are increasing due to global shortages and called on businesses and governments to increase production by 40%.

Read more: How deadly is the coronavirus?

Health experts agree that Covid-19 does not spread as easily as seasonal flu and usually is not transmitted by people who have no symptoms.