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WHO calls for debt relief as pandemic escalates

2 Apr 2020 02:27 PM

The President of the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed deep concern yesterday about the rapid escalation and global spread of new coronavirus cases, which have now reached 205 countries and regions.

He said his agency, as well as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), support debt relief to help developing countries cope with the social and economic consequences of the epidemic.

"In the past five weeks, there has been almost double growth in the number of new cases and the number of deaths more than doubled in the past week," the WHO chief said in a virtual press conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva, adding that in the next few days numbers will reach one million confirmed cases and 50, 000 deaths worldwide.

The organisation’s chief praised the $22.6 billion economic stimulus plan in India, announced after a 21-day closure imposed last week. The plan will provide free food rations for 800 million people, cash transfers for 204 million destitute women, and free cooking gas for 80 million families in the next three months.

He also said during the press conference that for these countries, debt relief is necessary to enable them to care for their people and avoid economic collapse. He issued an invitation on behalf of the WHO, the World Bank and the IMF for the provision of debt relief for developing countries.

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