The largest chunk of World Bank’s emergency financial assistance has gone to India- - $ 1 billion Credit: Representational Image

New Delhi: The World Bank has approved US$1 billion emergency funding for India to help it tackle the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed 68 lives and infected over 2,900 people in the country.

The World Bank’s first set of aid projects, amounting to US$ 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 on Thursday.

The largest chunk of the emergency financial assistance has gone to India – USD 1 billion. “In India, US$ 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 US$ 200 million for Pakistan, US$ 100 million for Afghanistan, US$ 7.3 million for the Maldives and US$ 128.6 million for Sri Lanka.

The World Bank said it was now working to grant up to US$ 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 programme 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.

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