- Cabinet approval given to utilise funds to promote e-education, working from home and disaster management
- Funds to be drawn from $128 m fast tracked by the WB in April
The Cabinet this week gave approval for the Government to utilise $56 million given by the World Bank for projects to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, which will include strengthening e-education, disaster management and infrastructure support for working from home.
The Cabinet paper was presented by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as Finance, Economic and Policy Development Minister.
“$56 million has been included under the emergency requirement responsive factors to be released for four investment projects that were funded by the World Bank Group so that the amount could be utilised for the projects that should be implemented immediately in the fields of uplifting agriculture, promoting e-education, and wider COVID-19 prevention measures,” Cabinet spokesman Bandula Gunawardena said.
In April the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a $128.6 million project to help Sri Lanka prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen its public health preparedness.
The Sri Lanka COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project has been fast-tracked to prioritise stopping and slowing the spread of the virus, reducing case numbers, and preventing outbreaks in communities.
Issuing a press release, the World Bank earlier said that the project will upscale the emergency response mechanisms, strengthen the capacity of laboratories and hospitals, treatment of patients, training of medical staff, and help raise public awareness about washing of hands, hygiene, and social distancing.
The funds include a $35 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) through the World Bank Group’s COVID-19 Fast-Track Facility and $93.6 million of credit from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessional credit window for developing countries.
Virus already in Italy by December, waste water study finds
ROME, AFP: COVID-19 was already present in two large cities in northern Italy in December, over two months before the first case was detected, a national health institute study of waste water has found.
Researchers discovered genetic traces of Sars-CoV-2 – as the virus is officially known – in samples of waste water collected in Milan and Turin at the end of last year, and Bologna in January, the ISS institute said in a statement seen by AFP on Friday.
Italy’s first known native case was discovered mid-February.
The results “help to understand the start of the circulation of the virus in Italy”, the ISS said.
They also “confirm the by-now consolidated international evidence” as to the strategic function of sewer samples as an early detection tool, it added.
Italy was the first European country to be hit by the virus and the first in the world to impose a nationwide lockdown. The first known case, other than a couple of visiting Chinese tourists, was a patient in the town of Codogno in the Lombardy region.
On 21 February, the government designated Codogno a so-called red zone and ordered it shuttered, followed by nine other towns across Lombardy and Veneto. By early March it had extended the shutdown across the country.
Italy has recorded over 34,500 deaths.