US approves ₱269-M COVID-19 aid to PH after Trump's phone call to Duterte

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 22) — The United States has approved an additional ₱269 million (or $5.3 million) in health and humanitarian assistance for the Philippines' fight against COVID-19, after the chief executives of both countries engaged in a phone meeting to discuss coronavirus response.

The American Embassy in Manila announced Wednesday that the U.S. government has increased its donations to the country to provide for laboratory and specimen-transport systems, and to help health professionals enhance case-finding and disease surveillance.

The funding will also aid Filipino and international technical experts in risk communication, infection prevention and control efforts, hand washing and hygiene promotion, and community-level preparedness response, it added.

U.S. President Donald Trump and President Rodrigo Duterte spoke over the phone on April 19 to discuss bilateral cooperation on COVID-19 response.

During their phone conversation, Trump expressed solidarity and offered additional assistance, as the Philippines continues to address the health and economic damages brought by the deadly virus. He also shared his condolences over the death of 11 Filipino soldiers recently killed in a clash with the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Trump and Duterte also talked about how they can strengthen their countries' economic, cultural, and security ties.

The two leaders agreed to continue working together as long-time allies to "defeat the [coronavirus] pandemic, save lives, and restore global economic strength."

The U.S. previously donated ₱203 million (or $4 million) and 1,300 cots for the country's medical frontliners and COVID-19 patients.

Over the past 20 years, it has already invested more than $4.5 billion to the Philippines, including $582 million for the local public health system.