BOGOTA (Reuters) - The World Bank has approved a loan of $700 million to Colombia to help the Andean country in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, it said on Friday.
The loan will help Colombia strengthen its healthcare system to meet increased demand for services, and will also allow social aid programs to expand and widen available credit and liquidity for businesses, the World Bank said in a statement.
"We are working quickly so that Colombia can count on the resources it needs in these times that are difficult for everybody, especially for the most vulnerable," said Ulrich Zachau, the bank's director for Colombia and Venezuela.
"With this loan we hope to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the health sector, the economy, and primarily to protect the lives and well-being of Colombian families."
Colombia has reported 84,442 cases of coronavirus and 2,811 deaths.
Including this loan, the World Bank has lent $1.25 billion to Colombia during the first six months of the year and provided $250 million in contingency financing to help its coronavirus response.
Significant additional loans are expected in the second half of the year for housing and infrastructure projects, the Bank said.
Colombia's economy has been battered by a national lockdown to curb the spread of the disease.
While certain restrictions have been lifted, the finance ministry still expects gross domestic product to contract 5.5% this year and foresees a fiscal deficit of 8.2%.
(Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)