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Coronavirus deaths cross 150,000 as world gears up for health, social and economic costs

Coronavirus deaths cross 150,000 as world gears up for health, social and economic costs

On the day when deaths related to coronavirus crossed 150,000 with over 2.2 million infections, the WHO warned that Africa could be the next virus hotspot while the Chinese city of Wuhan raised its tally by 50 per cent.

The worldwide data for the infections was released by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The US suffered the maximum fatalities at 34,575 with 683,000 infections. Italy recorded 22,745 deaths and Spain reported 19,613 deaths. France and the UK also reported over 10,000 deaths, according to the CSSE.

The World Bank is expected to launch health emergency programs in over 100 countries by the end of April to support the fight against COVID-19, with 64 already in operation, President David Malpass said Friday. It will deploy as much as $160 billion over the next 15 months for health, economic and social shocks that countries will face due to the pandemic, Malpass told a virtual press conference during the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the WB.

Other multilateral development banks (MDBs), such as the Asian Development Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank, have committed to roughly $80 billion over this period, bringing total funding to $240 dollars, Malpass said.

The World Bank president said he is pleased that Group of Twenty (G20) countries have recently decided to provide a suspension in debt service to bilateral creditors during the crisis, calling it "a powerful fast-acting initiative that can bring real benefits to the poor."

Noting that China is one of the big creditors, Malpass said China's support in the international agreement to allow a moratorium of debt repayments for the poorest countries is "important" and was "very welcome."

"We should allow markets to function, markets to clear and the supplies to go to those most in need," said the World Bank president, adding that China is exporting medical supplies to the rest of the world, which is "very welcome."

Shortly before the briefing, a meeting of the Development Committee, the joint ministerial committee of the boards of governors of the WBG and the IMF, also urged countries to keep trade open.

The committee "ask that all countries ensure the flow of vital medical supplies, critical agricultural products, and other goods and services across borders, and that they work to resolve disruptions to the global supply chains, to support the recovery," it said in a statement.

The committee also urged the two institutions to work with countries to design and implement policies and programs that help lift the poorest households out of poverty and support small businesses.

The policy-setting body of the IMF on Thursday also pledged collective action to mitigate the health and economic impact of COVID-19. (With agency inputs).