ADB extends $3-M grant to the Philippines for COVID-19 response

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Workers disinfect a train coach in Metro Manila (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 15) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $3-million grant (about ₱150 million) to the Philippines to help tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic, including the purchase of medical supplies.

The regional lender based in Manila announced the additional funding for the Philippines on Saturday, saying it would allow the government “to purchase diagnostic reagents and equipment, materials for makeshift hospitals, and personal protection supplies for health workers managing severe COVID-19 cases,” to name a few.

There are 140 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the country as of Sunday afternoon. Eleven died from the disease, according to the Department of Health.

The Department of Finance said separately that it asked for the grant from ADB under its Asia-Pacific Disaster Response Fund. The lender will manage the funds, assist in the purchase of supplies, as well as in choosing the suppliers for medical equipment in coordination with the Health Department.

The Philippines has been under a state of public health emergency since March 8, when local transmission of COVID-19 was confirmed.

DOF asked for the funding aid on Thursday shortly after the World Health Organization classified the disease as a global pandemic, with over 152,000 cases and more than 5,000 deaths reported worldwide. The money will be used to acquire testing tools, protective gear for medical personnel, as well as equipment to be used on patients with severe cases.

Metro Manila has been placed under a month-long community quarantine, with local government units imposing curfew hours to keep residents at home. Classes on all levels have been suspended while work in government offices have been canceled or placed under skeletal workforce arrangements. Private businesses have been encouraged to allow work from home set-ups.

Last month, ADB also extended financial aid for China to support early detection of the disease, as well as a $2 million grant for all its developing member-states to fight COVID-19.

The grant is separate from the ₱2.35-billion supplemental budget requested by the Department of Health from Congress to buy N95 masks, gowns, gloves, and protective gear for 5,000 health workers. The House Committee on Appropriations approved a ₱1.65-billion fund on March 10, just before Congress sessions went on a break. The supplemental budget needs to be approved by both the House and the Senate before it can be signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte.

ADB had to shut down its headquarters in Mandaluyong for disinfection beginning March 12, upon learning that a visitor who entered the premises eventually tested positive for COVID-19. The bank’s staff have been told to work from home while their offices are being cleaned.