Policemen wearing facemasks stand guard outside a closed mosque during Friday prayers on a government-imposed nationwide…
Policemen wearing facemasks stand guard outside a closed mosque during Friday prayers on a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Lahore on April 17, 2020.

ISLAMABAD - The United States announced Friday several new programs worth more than $8 million to assist Pakistan in stemming the spread of coronavirus nationwide and to care for afflicted people.

Pakistan, with a population of 220 million, has recorded more than 7,000 cases of the virus that causes COVD-19, and the number is growing by the day. The pandemic has killed more than 135 people.

U.S. ambassador to Islamabad Paul Jones explained in a statement Friday that the new funding will be used to establish labs so Pakistanis living in hotspots can be tested, treated and monitored to stop the spread of the virus. 

The aid will also fund high-tech emergency operation centers across Pakistan and train community health workers to assist people in their homes to lessen the burden on hospitals.

Jones noted a portion of the contributions will also be used for new life-saving activities in Afghan refugee camps and host communities in Pakistan, administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The South Asian nation hosts about 3 million Afghans, both legal refugees and illegal economic migrants.

“All of these contributions were identified as top priority needs by Pakistani authorities, and they are fully paid by the American people,” he emphasized.

Jones said the United States is a leading supporter of the immediate and exceptional measures just agreed on by G-20 nations, which will provide substantial relief to Pakistan.

The G-20 group of leading global economies earlier this week agreed to suspend debt payments owed to them by developing nations. The move is meant to help these countries deal with the health and economic fallouts of the coronavirus pandemic.

“What I’ve described today is the latest chapter in a long, vibrant U.S.-Pakistan health partnership,” the ambassador said.

Washington last month redirected $1 million in existing funding and provided $1 million in new funding to assist Pakistan in its fight against the coronavirus.

The United States has contributed more than $1.1 billion to Pakistan’s health sector and about $18 billion overall to the bilateral development partnership. 

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