US pumps $274-million aid in countries battling COVID-19

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 31 2020 01:25 PM

US President Donald Trump is followed by Vice President Mike Pence as he arrives to address the coronavirus task force daily briefing at the White House in Washington, US, March 26, 2020. Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

MANILA— The United States has rolled out a $274-million aid package for at least 64 countries, including the Philippines, as the new coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the world with the global death count now at more than 37,000.

The Philippines, where 78 have died of the disease, is set to receive close to $4 million (about P200 million) in aid, according to the US State Department.

The funding will help the Philippine government come up with more “laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, support technical experts for response and preparedness, risk communication, infection prevention and control.”

“This is a global pandemic. The solution to this will depend on people working together all across the world,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in a teleconference Monday night.

The US Embassy in Manila earlier announced a $2.7-million (P139 million) assistance to help the Philippines contain the new coronavirus, which has infected at least 1,546 as of Monday afternoon.

In Asia, at least 21 countries were identified as among beneficiaries in the $274-million aid, with the Philippines receiving the highest earmark among those in Southeast Asia, according to a breakdown posted at the state department website.

Around $3.8 million was allocated for Burma for water and sanitation, and the management of COVID-19 cases.

Some $1.2 million was alloted for Thailand and $1.1 million for Timor Leste, with part of the amount to be spent to support technical experts. Vietnam is set to receive almost $3 million in emergency assistance.

DISINFORMATION

Washington announced the humanitarian and health assistance for 64 of the “most at-risk countries” as it also struggles to contain the virus, which has killed at least 3,000 people out of more than 160,000 confirmed cases in the US.

Pompeo cited the need for transparency, calling out countries such as China, Iran, and Russia over alleged disinformation about the new coronavirus.

“The narratives are different but each of them has the same component, which is to avoid responsibility and try and place confusion in the world, confusion about where the virus began, and also confusion about how countries are responding to it, and which countries are actually providing assistance throughout the world,” he said but cited no proof.

“Efforts by governments to create either disinformation or misinformation about what’s taking place harm the capacity for the world to save lives,” he added.