UK announces $38.7B package in response to coronavirus
The British government on Wednesday announced a fiscal stimulus package of £30 billion ($38.7 billion) in response to the global coronavirus outbreak.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the 2020 budget in the House of Commons, detailing the government’s economic plans after warning that the virus would have a "significant impact."
"Taken together, the extraordinary measures I have set out today represent £7 billion to support the self-employed, businesses and vulnerable people,” Sunak said.
"To support the NHS and other public services, I am also setting aside a £5 billion emergency response fund – and will go further if necessary,” he said.
"Whatever extra resources our NHS needs to cope with coronavirus it will get," Sunak said, adding "whether it’s millions of pounds of billions of pounds."
He said: "Those measures are on top of plans that I will set out later in this budget, which provide an additional fiscal loosening of £18 billion to support the economy this year.
"That means I am announcing today, in total, a £30 billion fiscal stimulus to support British people, British jobs and British businesses through this moment.”
Earlier in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the parliament will be guided by Public Health England after, Nadie Dorries, a senior health minister, tested positive with the strain and calls to suspend gatherings in Westminster.
Johnson said people on “all types of contracts” will get the protection they need, and that no one who does the right thing, and stays at home, will be penalized.
The government’s announcement came to stimulate the British economy and control financial damage due to coronavirus and possible restrictions such as reduced numbers of flights and cancelled events.
Coronavirus has claimed six lives in the U.K. so far, with more than 300 people who have tested positive for the strain.
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, emerged in Wuhan, China, last December and has now spread to more than 100 countries.
The global death toll is now almost 4,300, with around 118,000 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
On Monday, the head of the WHO said with the number of countries affected by the virus, the “threat of a pandemic has become very real.”