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IMF ups support for Honduras as coronavirus bites

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Monday it has increased overall financing access for Honduras to about $531 million, immediately releasing $233 million, more than five times the amount initially approved.

Increasing the access under the Stand-By Arrangement and the Arrangement under the Standby Credit Facility will help cover financing needs to help the impoverished Central American nation respond to the impact of the novel coronavirus.

"The COVID-19 pandemic and external spillovers are expected to hit Honduras hard, and the augmentation of access will support the authorities' response to mitigate the impact," the fund said in a statement.

It added that these changes "will help Honduras meet urgent balance of payments needs stemming from the pandemic, including increased health care and social spending". Honduras has confirmed 5,202 cases of the virus and 212 related deaths.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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