Sri Lanka thanks India for sending coronavirus vaccine

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Colombo, Jan 26 (PTI) Sri Lanka on Tuesday expressed appreciation and gratitude to India for sending 500,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine to the island country.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa told the Cabinet that the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo informed that India would be sending 500,000 vaccines to Sri Lanka and they will arrive here on January 28.

“The Cabinet of Ministers decided to express the appreciation and gratitude of the Sri Lankan government in this regard,' a Cabinet note said.

Sri Lanka will become the eighth country to which India is gifting COVID-19 vaccines since it began its country-wide mega immunisation programme on January 16.

India has gifted vaccines to seven countries in the region under grant assistance in sync with its “Neighbourhood First” policy -- Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles, Afghanistan and Mauritius.

India was so far waiting for regulatory approval from Sri Lankan and Afghan authorities.

Sri Lanka on Friday approved emergency use of Oxford AstraZeneca's Covishield vaccine being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

The Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Gen Shavendra Silva who heads the COVID-19 preventive operations on Tuesday said that the government has finalised the priority list of vulnerable groups who will be first receiving the vaccine.

“The frontline workers who are involved in the containing the spread of the virus will receive the vaccine first,' Silva said.

He said the Army will transport the stocks of vaccines when they arrive at the international airport in Colombo to be stored in the capital.

The health authorities conducted a trial run of the vaccination process at three different centres over the weekend.

Sri Lanka has witnessed a fresh outbreak of the disease in October when two clusters - one centered on a garment factory and the other on the main fish market - emerged in Colombo and its suburbs. PTI CORR PMS PMS