IMF readies $127M for 3 countries battling Ebola

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday it is preparing $127 million in zero-interest loans to the three African countries hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The money would help the three governments deal with rising health and security expenses at a time when Ebola has damaged their economies and reduced tax revenue.

The loans would cover "a sizeable share" of the $300 million the governments need over the next six to nine months, the IMF said in a statement. The IMF's staff recommended the loans and the fund's board will consider the request early next month.

The $127 million would be on top of existing IMF loans to the three countries.

The World Bank on Tuesday approved a $105 million grant to finance efforts to contain Ebola. The disease is believed to have killed at least 2,400 people in the biggest outbreak ever.

The outbreak is also doing considerable economic damage. As Ebola spreads, farmers leave their fields, shops close and transportation is disrupted.

The World Bank said Ebola will reduce economic growth in Guinea this year to 2.4 percent from previous expectations of 4.5 percent growth. Liberia's growth is forecast to slip to 2.5 percent from 5.9 percent and Sierra Leone's to 8 percent from 11.3 percent.

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