April 30, 2020 / 5:51 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Zambia gets $145 million from lenders for coronavirus fight

(Updates with health, finance ministers)

LUSAKA, April 30 (Reuters) - Zambia will get 2.7 billion kwacha ($145 million) from multilateral lenders, Britain and the United States to help fight the coronavirus, the ministry of finance said on Thursday.

The southern African country has confirmed 106 cases of COVID-19 infection and three deaths from the lung disease, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said on Thursday.

Chilufya said the number of cases was expected to increase as Zambia gradually scales up the testing.

The World Bank made $57.6 million available to Zambia under its rapid response facility and a further $20 million under its COVID-19 fast track facility, the ministry said in a statement.

The African Development (AfDB) Bank had committed $37.5 million for the purchase of medical equipment and other healthcare needs, it said.

“The AfDB will also provide food security packs for approximately 200,000 households in the event of the situation escalating,” the statement said.

Britain had pledged 30 million pounds ($37.5 million) towards increasing the provision of cash grants to the poor and the United States had approved a grant of $14.5 million to Zambia, it said.

Zambia’s budget has been thrown into disarray by the economic blow from the coronavirus outbreak and the government needs to take action to support businesses, President Edgar Lungu said last week.

Finance Minister Bwalya Ng’andu thanked the World Bank, the African Development Bank, Britain and the U.S. for the support. ($1 = 0.8004 pounds) ($1 = 18.6130 Zambian kwachas) (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Alex Richardson and Chizu Nomiyama)

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