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Posted: 2020-03-28 18:00:00

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $300,000 in emergency grant for Bangladesh in its first of the planned support that the lender is preparing to help the country's fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The grant will support procurement of health safety materials, including personal protective gears, N95 masks, safety googles, aprons, thermometers and biohazard bags.

The list has been prioritised by the Directorate General of Health Services under the health and family welfare ministry of Bangladesh. The materials will help the government strengthen its efforts to contain the spread of the virus, said the ADB in a press release.

The grant assistance, approved on March 27, is sourced from the ADB's Regional Technical Assistance entitled "Regional Support to Address the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 and Potential Outbreaks of Other Communicable Diseases".

"The ADB is fully committed to supporting Bangladesh in the fight to control the COVID-19, and this is only the first of the planned support that the ADB is preparing to help the Government deal with this difficult situation," said Manmohan Parkash, country director of the lender.

This assistance will invigorate Bangladesh's ability to strengthen prevention, improve health professionals' protection from the disease, test people to detect infection, manage severe cases, and reduce the risk of the deadly virus' mass transmission, he said in the statement.

"We are working tirelessly to put together further assistance in the health and financial sectors."

The Manila-based lender may provide $500 million in budget support to Bangladesh, whose economy has come under strain because of the outbreak of the virus, said a finance ministry official.

Bangladesh's gross domestic product may contract by as much as 1.1 per cent in the hypothetical worst-case scenario of a significant outbreak of coronavirus in the country, said the ADB in an analysis in the first week of March.

That means, the novel virus could wipe $3.02 billion off the $300 billion-plus economy. In such a scenario, 894,930 jobs will be lost, according to the ADB.

Another $100 million from the ADB may be given for the health sector, said an official of the health ministry. The funds would be used to set up hospitals to treat coronavirus-affected patients and buy equipment.  

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