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Foreign banks have stepped up efforts to assist in India’s battle against the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest to join the initiative are Citi and UBS Group AG after HSBC India declared its support last week. While Citi has pledged an additional $27 million over the next three financial years towards India’s recovery and relief efforts against covid-19, UBS Group AG has decided to donate $1.5 million for relief operations.

Citi, which recently announced it will exit the retail business in India, on Wednesday said that of the total pledged amount, $10 million is being allocated immediately towards the procurement of oxygen supplies, adding beds to hospitals, diagnostic testing systems, personal protection kits and other supplies for India’s frontline healthcare workers.

“We have been in India for more than 100 years, and the country is home to over 20,000 of our colleagues. We are determined to support India through this unprecedented health crisis," said Peter Babej, Asia Pacific chief executive of Citi. “Our efforts in India are an important part of our global commitment to fight covid-19. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have focused on assisting communities around the world, including through financial support of $100 million from Citi and the Citi Foundation."

Citi said that in FY21 it facilitated 115,076 RT-PCR tests across 17 municipal corporations and nine districts in Maharashtra. It said it has delivered 850 tons of ration supplies to 26,200 families across 20 locations nationally and also funded six startups incubated at the Society for Development and Innovation, at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

UBS, on the other hand, said that in the initial phase, it will work with Swasti, a Bangalore-based non-governmental organization (NGO) which designs and delivers health and well-being solutions across India. In stage two, UBS will support COVAX on education programs and ensuring the equitable procurement and distribution of vaccines. Led by the World Health Organization (WHO) with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the COVAX initiative tries to ensure equitable access to covid-19 vaccines across the globe. In the third phase, UBS will team up with some of its existing partners in India to help build resilience in local communities and support mental well-being.

“The current wave of covid-19 in India has had a devastating impact across the country and our thoughts are with all who are suffering. As was the case last year, when we donated $1 million to support emergency relief for frontline and migrant workers, UBS is seeking to help alleviate the suffering in the worst affected regions," said Edmund Koh, president of UBS Asia Pacific and member of the group executive board.

These banks join an increasing number of corporates, domestic and overseas, supporting the nation’s fightback against the second wave of the coronavirus. India has also aid in the form of medical equipment, medications from countries across the globe in recent weeks.

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