MANILA, May 29 — The World Bank Group approved a US$500 million (RM2.2 billion) loan for the Philippines to help it cope with the economic impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Bank said today.

The Philippine government will begin easing from June 1 one of the world’s toughest and longest lockdowns for residents in the capital and other key cities, restoring much-needed activity to an economy facing its deepest contraction in nearly three decades.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has badly hurt millions of poor and vulnerable Filipino families, particularly daily wage earners,” said Achim Fock, World Bank acting country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.

The loan will support efforts to provide immediate relief to poor Filipinos and small business workers who have lost their jobs during the lockdown since mid-March, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in a statement.

The World Bank last month approved two sets of loans totalling US$600 million to support the Philippines’ emergency response to the coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 15,000 and killed more than 900 in the Philippines. — Reuters