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India pledges $6.7B in Covid loans

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Family members and relatives carry the body of a victim who died from Covid-19 next to the burning pyres of other victims at a cremation ground in New Delhi on Tuesday, as India’s total Covid caseload soared past 20 million. AFP

India pledges $6.7B in Covid loans

India released $6.7 billion in cheap financing for vaccine makers, hospitals and other health firms on May 5, to counter the devastating coronavirus surge gripping the country.

Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das also vowed to deploy “unconventional” measures if the crisis worsens.

He spoke as India announced a record 3,780 deaths in 24 hours as well as 382,000 new cases.

This week it became the second country after the US to pass 20 million cases and hospitals across the country of 1.3 billion people have complained of chronic shortages of beds, oxygen, vaccines and key drugs.

“The devastating speed with which the virus affects different regions of the country has to be matched by swift and wider-anging actions,” Das said.

The new measures – making it easier for banks to give cheap loans to hospitals, oxygen manufacturers and even patients – aim to improve access to emergency health care, he said.

The central bank will also give some general business borrowers more time to repay loans to help underpin the economy, Das said.

“The immediate objective is to preserve human life and restore livelihoods through all means possible,” he added.

India’s underfunded health care system has struggled to cope with the latest Covid-19 onslaught, with patients dying in hospital parking lots due to a lack of beds and oxygen.

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