The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan amount of $1.5 billion to India to help fund its fight against the novel coronavirus, the government said on Tuesday.

The loan amount will focus on immediate priorities such as disease containment and prevention, as well as social protection for the poor and economically vulnerable sections of the society, especially women and disadvantaged groups.

“ADB is glad to support India’s bold measures to contain the COVID- 19 pandemic outbreak while protecting the most vulnerable people affected by movement restrictions, by fast-tracking and delivering the largest ever loan to India. We will continue to engage with the government to strengthen the implementation framework and capacities including monitoring and evaluation systems of its health services and social protection programmes so that the benefits reach to the poor, women, and other disadvantaged people,” said Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director, ADB, in India.

“We thank ADB’s timely assistance for the government’s immediate response measures to the coronavirus pandemic to implement (i) COVID-19 containment plan to rapidly ramp up test-track-treatment capacity, and (ii) social protection for the poor, vulnerable, women, and disadvantaged groups to protect more than 800 million people over the next three months,” said Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), in the Department of Economic Affairs in Ministry of Finance.

The signatories to the loan agreement for the ADB’s COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Programme (CARES Programme) were Sameer Kumar Khare and Kenichi Yokoyama.

Earlier, the ADB’s Board of Directors approved the loan to provide budget support to the government to counter and mitigate the adverse health and socio-economic impact of the pandemic.

Earlier, during the telephone call with NirmalaSitharaman, Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs and ADB Governor on April 9, ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa conveyed ADB’s commitment to supporting India’s emergency needs for the health sector while alleviating the economic impact of the pandemic, as well as short- to medium-term measures to restore the dynamic economic growth of the country by exploring all available financing options.

The CARES Programme is provided as the first support to meet the immediate requirements of the government.