World Bank commits US$1 billion to help India fight COVID-19
The World Bank has committed US$1 billion to help India expand its laboratory capacity in the fight against COVID-19, a highly contagious viral infection caused by SARS-CoV-2. The fund will also be used to ensure that medical staff across the country are well-equipped and well-trained to give emergency care.
Greater lab capacity could help India widen its testing net beyond suspected patients - this, in turn, could help the country detect and isolate patients early and hopefully stem the spread of the disease.
According to ICMR data, as of 2 April, India had given permission to 52 private labs to test for COVID-19. The number of government labs approved and supported for COVID-19 testing stood at 126, with an additional nine labs in the pipeline for approval.
World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has repeatedly stressed on the importance of testing, isolating and contact tracing to contain the spread of COVID-19.
India, which was still in the local transmission phase of the infection as per the latest WHO report, had reported 72 COVID-19 related deaths as of early morning of 3 April.
With regards to testing, global health experts have expressed concern that most countries are simply not testing enough - they are administering tests to confirm suspected cases only. In an ideal scenario, if enough tests are administered, then only about 12% of tests should come back positive.
The aid package
The aid from the World Bank to India is part of a larger package of US$14 billion, to help 40 countries including Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Maldives, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Cambodia, Yemen and India in Asia; Paraguay, Ecuador, Argentina and Haiti in the Americas, and Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, D.R. Congo, Djibouti, Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Sao Tome e Principe and Senegal in Africa. World Bank and IFC first announced the aid in a press release on 17 March.
Axel van Trotsenburg, the Managing Director of Operations at the World Bank, tweeted in the early hours of Friday, 3 April, that new projects worth $1.9 billion had been approved to assist countries like India fight the new coronavirus infection.
While announcing the $14 billion package, World Bank Group President David Malpass had said: “The World Bank Group is committed to a fast, flexible response based on the needs of developing countries. Support operations are already underway, and the expanded funding tools approved today will help sustain economies, companies and jobs.”
For more information, read our article on Who can get tested for COVID-19.
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Updated Date: Apr 03, 2020 11:59:50 IST
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