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UK announces five billion pound emergency response fund for coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Newly appointed Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaves Downing Street in London, Britain February 13, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo - RC2KFF9BCSQN/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday he would set aside 5 billion pounds ($6.5 billion) to help Britain’s National Health Service and other public services tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

In his first annual budget statement to parliament, Sunak said he would go “further if necessary”.

In September, the government said it would raise spending on the NHS in England by 3% more than inflation in 2020/21 to 129.9 billion pounds, excluding longer-term investment.

The government also said annual NHS spending in 2023/24 would be 33.9 billion pounds higher than in 2018/19.

Reporting by David Milliken and Elizabeth Piper, Editing by Kylie MacLellan

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