SL accelerates vaccination program as Covid worsens

Sri Lanka has accelerated its Covid-19 vaccination program as the pandemic situation in the island nation is worsening with a daily spike in the number of confirmed cases and deaths due to the disease.

As of Tuesday morning, Sri Lanka has reported a total of 145,202 Covid-19 cases and 981 deaths.

During the first half of May, the number of newly confirmed cases touched 30,000, and the fatalities increased by nearly 300, reports Xinhua news agency.

Due to the rapid increase in cases, Sri Lanka is facing a severe shortage of medical resources, including hospital beds as well as medical equipment.

In order to control the spread of the pandemic, the Sri Lankan government imposed an island-wide travel restriction which came into effect on May 13 and was lifted in the early hours of Monday.

Vaccination centres were however, allowed to function and people eager to get inoculated were seen flocking to these facilities.

Sri Lanka is using different brands of Covid-19 vaccines.

As a large number of vaccines ordered from abroad could not be delivered on schedule, the program was seriously affected.

On May 8, the government began using the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine in Kalutara, in the south of Colombo, one of the hardest-hit areas.

Since then, Sinopharm has become the main vaccine to be used in the island country.

Channa Jayasumana, state minister of pharmaceutical production, supply and regulation, said at the launch of the vaccination program that the Sinopharm jabs will help the Sri Lankan government achieve the goal of vaccinating at least 70 per cent of the population by the end of the year.

On May 13, the government decided to expand the range of people vaccinated with Sinopharm to those over the age of 60 who did not have complications from other diseases.

Sri Lanka’s vaccination program is currently in operation mainly in the most severely affected districts in the Western Province such as Colombo, Gampaha, and Kalutara.

About 40 vaccination centers have been set up in these areas.

Medical Officer Dammika Adikariwattage told Xinhua that due to the sharp increase in the number of new cases, the public are more eager to get vaccinated than in the past.

The community vaccination centre under Adikariwattage’s jurisdiction can service about 700 people a day. A large centre can vaccinate more than 2,000 people a day.

Those wanting to be vaccinated have to fill out forms on the spot, which is then checked by the staff. This is a slow process, with most people having to wait for several hours.

According to the information from the Ministry of Health, as of May 16, more than 1.315 million had been vaccinated.

Of these 375,000 had been given the Sinopharm vaccine.