EU announces 15 billion euros to fight coronavirus worldwide

BRUSSELS, Belgium – The European Union is to put up 15 billion euros ($16.4 billion) to help poor countries fight the coronavirus pandemic, the bloc's chief announced on Tuesday, April 7.

European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said the money would help countries with weak health care systems tackle the impact of COVID-19 and also aid their long-term economic recovery.

Beating the pandemic in Europe alone is not enough, officials say, pointing out that if coronavirus continues to rage elsewhere in the world, it will simply return in time. (READ: France urges debt freeze for poor countries hit by pandemic)

"We will only win this battle with a coordinated global response," von der Leyen said in a video posted on Twitter.

"This is why the European Union is securing more than 15 billion euros to help our partners worldwide to fight coronavirus."

The brief video did not give details of where the money would come from nor which countries would benefit.

But officials have previously identified Africa as a concern because of its links to Europe and the poor state of health care in many of its countries.

A senior EU official last week warned it would be "completely useless" to defeat coronavirus in Europe if it simply re-emerged from nearby countries struggling to contain it. (READ: G20 vows to fight coronavirus impact on poor nations)

"Africa could experience the same problems that we are facing in Europe in a matter of weeks," von der Leyen said in her video on Tuesday.

"They need our help to slow down the spread of the virus as we needed help in this crisis."

Europe has been the epicenter of the virus in recent weeks but last week the EU's diplomatic chief Josep Borrell warned the virus could "get out of control very rapidly" in Africa.

EU development ministers will meet by video call on Wednesday to discuss details of financial help for vulnerable countries. – Rappler.com