The World Bank has said that it is providing Mexico with more than $200 million in loans to help it deal with an outbreak of a new strain of swine flu.
Mexican health officials say swine flu has killed up to 86 people and probably sickened about 1,400 in the country since April 13.
Mexican Finance Minister Agustin Carstens, in Washington to attend the World Bank's spring meeting, said the money includes an immediate loan of $25 million to buy medicine and medical equipment. The remaining $180 million in loans will be used to build up operations and institutional capacity needed to cope with the outbreak.
"Lots of resources are being devoted to bringing under control this issue," said Carstens, who is chairman of the World Bank's policy steering committee, yesterday. "We will have to wait some days to a have much better idea of the consequences."
Carstens said it was too early to know if the outbreak will disrupt the Mexican economy.
World Bank chief Robert Zoellick said he mobilized the bank's staff two days ago, when he first heard about the outbreak. He said the bank, which has dealt with health emergencies such as SARS and Asian bird flu, could help Mexico cut through procurement bureaucracy and respond more quickly to the crisis.