New Delhi: India is seeking as much as $6 billion of loans from multilateral institutions such as the Asian Development Bank to bolster its efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The World Bank has already committed $1 billion, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is in talks with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and ADB, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details haven’t been finalized.
India needs to rapidly scale up testing for the virus to head off the disease from infecting more people in the world’s most populated nation after China. Proceeds including from the World Bank will be used to acquire testing kits and ventilators, turning hospital beds into intensive care unit beds as well as for buying personal protective equipment for health care workers.
Spokesmen at India’s Ministry of Finance, AIIB and ADB weren’t immediately available for comment.
The pandemic isn’t just a “health challenge,” Junaid Ahmad, the World Bank’s India director said in a statement. “It has deep social and economic implications. In parallel, we are working with equal urgency with government on social protection programs and economic measures that protect the livelihoods of people.”
With train and bus services largely suspended, migrant workers in the nation have been walking hundreds of kilometers to get back to their villages. There’s concern the people, who work as laborers in India’s cities, will be taking the virus back to the hinterland with them.
Hence the need to rapidly boost testing. The number of tests in India stood at just 66,000 on April 3, about one-thirtieth the pace of the U.S and even further behind that of top testing countries like South Korea.
Meanwhile, Modi on Friday asked citizens to light candles on April 5 evening to “challenge the darkness” of the coronavirus. – Bloomberg
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