Coronavirus fight getting $12B from World Bank to aid poor countries

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NEW YORK — The World Bank announced Wednesday that it is making $12 billion available to provide immediate support to low-income countries dealing with the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus.

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World Bank President David Malpass said the money will go to help developing nations strengthen their health systems that are fighting an epidemic that has already spread to more than 60 countries.

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“The point is to move fast,” Malpass told reporters. “Speed is needed to save lives.”

Of the $12 billion in support, $8 billion represents new funds and $4 billion is being re-allocated from existing programs, Malpass said.

David Malpass, head of the World Bank, looks to provide immediate support to low-income countries dealing with the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

The World Bank funds are designed to help countries detect when the virus crosses their borders and purchase medical equipment to treat any outbreaks.

The World Bank as well as its sister lending organization, the 189-nation International Monetary Fund, said that they will replace their regular spring meetings in Washington with a “virtual format” in response to the coronavirus.

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In a joint statement, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank President David Malpass said their decision was being made given “growing health concerns related to the virus.”

The two global lending organizations normally hold an annual spring meeting in Washington, where they both have their headquarters. This year’s meeting had been scheduled for the week of April 13.

The statement said that the agency would fully employ their Information Technology facilities “to the fullest” to allow member countries to hold essential policy consultations that would have taken place in person.

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