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Sri Lanka approves AstraZeneca vaccine

The island nation has opened itself to tourists


Sri Lanka's The National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) has approved the use of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine amid warnings that frontline health workers should be vaccinated quickly to prevent the healthcare system from collapsing. 

Despite a surge in coronavirus numbers, the island nation has opened itself to tourists. The number of visitors will be capped at 2,500 per day. 

The British vaccine has been approved for emergency use, Minister for Pharmaceutical Production and Regulation Channa Jayasumana said. The AstraZeneca vaccine is the first one to be approved by Sri Lanka, an AP report reads. The vaccine is expected to be imported to the country by mid-February. 

Other vaccine candidates are waiting in the pipeline to be approved. 

“When you have one positive case about 10 health workers will need to be sent on quarantine. The system is collapsing day by day,” said Dr Haritha Aluthge from the Government Medical Officers' Association. 

“Vaccines need to be given quickly to keep the health workers' morals up and we need health workers to treat patients,” she added.

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