Informal vendors gather in front of a municipal office building in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on April 8, 2020, as they try to…
Informal vendors gather in front of a municipal office building in Braamfontein, South Africa, on April 8, 2020, as they try to obtain a permit for working during the national lockdown.

PARIS - The European Union announced Wednesday it will earmark about $16 billion for Africa and other low-income regions to fight coronavirus. 

Most of the financing does not include new money, but rather shifts existing loans and funds to the coronavirus response.  

Africa is the biggest winner in the package, getting about $3.8 billion of the total. 

Josep Borrell, European Union foreign policy chief, holds a news conference in Brussels, Jan. 10, 2020.

“Africa is a priority for the European Union and we are very much aware it is under huge pressure, that the crisis could have consequences of an entirely different scale than in other parts of the world,” said Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief.

The funding for Africa will focus on strengthening health preparedness and response, as well as research into coronavirus. The EU is also earmarking about $80 million for African coronavirus testing labs connected to the Gates Foundation philanthropy group. 

Other EU funds are being channeled to parts of Europe, Asia, Latin America and other regions. Borrell said the money will come from the EU’s executive arm, European investment institutions and member states. 

“Especially in countries without enough doctors, testing and protective medical equipment, with no access to clean water, the consequences of the pandemic could be devastating,”  Borrell said. 

Borrell added that EU support will focus on the immediate health needs of vulnerable countries, on strengthening their national capacity, and on helping to mitigate the social and economic consequences of the virus.

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