ADB extends $2M assistance to combat coronavirus

ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has shelled out $2 million in fresh funds to support efforts in combating the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus.

The funds will supplement ongoing regional technical assistance and strengthen response capacity in Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam, the bank said in a statement on Friday.

It said the assistance will be primarily used for the development of recommendations for improved outbreak investigation and surveillance, including in rural areas, and the strengthening of health systems’ resilience and capacity for epidemic response. It will also support the supply of diagnostic and laboratory equipment for rapid testing to help combat the outbreak.

ADB’s newly-installed president Masatsugu Asakawa said: “ADB has a track record of providing rapid and targeted support to our members in emergency situations.”

“We stand ready to provide further assistance as required,” he added.

The ADB is also in close coordination with the World Health Organization officials and other regional experts to identify areas that require financial assistance to treat coronavirus.

Additional technical assistance is under preparation to help other developing member countries improve key economic and health systems, including disease surveillance, provision of medical supplies, outbreak response plans, and regional cooperation.

Where needed, support may include the procurement of medicines and medical equipment.

Other activities may include economic and health system assessments to improve understanding of the economic impacts and the design of appropriate response measures.

ADB said it was studying the impact of the virus on the region’s economies, including through channels such as tourism, consumption, trade, and supply chains.

As of press time, China recorded 636 death cases caused by the coronavirus or an increase of 73 deaths in just 24 hours.

Confirmed cases, meanwhile, were now at 31,161, marking a rise of 3,143, prompting the WHO to declare a global emergency.

The virus originated from Wuhan City in the province of Hubei in December. It has spread all over China, into its administrative regions, and dozens of countries.

Established in 1966, ADB is committed to achieving an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. It is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.