India’s central bank on Wednesday released $ 6.7 billion in cheap funding for vaccine makers, hospitals and other healthcare companies to counter the devastating coronavirus outbreak hitting the country.
Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das said cheap loans would be available until March 31 next year and pledged to roll out “unconventional” measures if the crisis unfolds. worsen.
He spoke as India announced a record 3,780 deaths in 24 hours as well as 382,000 cases.
“The devastating speed with which the virus affects different regions of the country must be accompanied by swift and far-reaching actions,” he said.
With hospitals complaining of critical shortages of oxygen, beds and vaccines, the new measures aim to improve access to emergency health care during the pandemic, he said. It will be easier for banks to give cheap loans to hospitals, oxygen makers and even patients.
“The immediate goal is to preserve human life and restore livelihoods by any means possible,” Das added.
India’s underfunded healthcare system has struggled to cope with the latest Covid-19 attack, with patients dying in hospital parking lots due to a lack of beds and oxygen.
The country has tried to regain lost ground after a strict multi-month lockdown that caused the labor market to collapse and the economy to contract by nearly a quarter between April and June last year.
Asia’s third-largest economy was in the throes of a prolonged downturn even before the pandemic, and the virus’s blow to global activity and one of the world’s toughest lockdowns combined to deal a heavy blow to the country.
Fearing a repeat of last year’s economic devastation, authorities have so far imposed limited restrictions, trying to strike a balance between sustaining the economy and targeting epidemics in the hardest-hit areas of the country. country.
New Delhi is hoping the economy will get a new boost from a massive vaccination campaign that began in January, with 160 million vaccines administered to date in the 1.3 billion country.
© 2021 AFP