Zika-virus will impact Caribbean economies

POSTED: 02/23/16 7:36 PM

World Bank makes millions available

St. Maarten – The economic impact of the Zika-virus on Caribbean economies could be significant in real numbers, according to a report from the World Bank. Last week, the World Bank made $150 million available to combat the outbreak of Zika in Latin America and the Caribbean. The bank said it expects the virus to reduce the Caribbean’s economic output this year by $3.5 billion – or 0.06 percent of gross domestic product.

Governments in the region stand to lose a combined $420 million in fiscal revenue. The World Bank projects that Mexico and Cuba will take the biggest hits. Mexico will see its gross domestic product go down by $744 million, while that of Cuba will reduce by $664 million.

The projections reflect the World Bank’s expectation that the Zika virus will inevitably lead to a drop in tourism arrivals in the region.

Belize will lose 1.22 percent of its GDP. “Several Caribbean island nations will see a drop of similar size, the World Bank warns. For St. Maarten, with a GDP of around 1.9 billion guilders, it would mean a drop of 23.1 million guilders, or roughly $12.9 million.

Brazil, the country with the highest number of reported Zika-cases, will lose $310 million, just 0.01 percent of its GDP, the World Bank said, adding that Brazil’s losses are less than those of the Dominican Republic.

According to a report by Reuters, Brazil has not more than 500 cases of microcephaly – a condition linked to the Zika virus, and that the country is investigating an additional 3,900 cases.

“Our analysis underscores the importance of urgent action to halt the spread of the Zika virus and to protect the health and wellbeing of people in the affected countries,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

In 2014, Kim criticized the world’s “disastrously inadequate response” to West Africa’s Ebola virus outbreak, saying that it caused many needless deaths.

The World Bank said its Zika financing will support a wide range of activities related to the Zika response, including surveillance of the virus’s spread, identifying at-risk people, access to family planning and public awareness.

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