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Sri Lanka rolls out booster jabs amid warning of virus surge

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lankan authorities on Monday began to roll out COVID-19 booster shots to frontline workers as the South Asian nation’s top medical association warned of a possible virus surge.

Pfizer booster jabs will be given initially to workers in the health, security and travel sectors, before including those above 60 years of age, the health ministry has said.

About 62% of Sri Lanka’s 22 million people have been fully vaccinated, according to the ministry’s statistics.

The head of the Sri Lanka Medical Association, Padma Gunaratne, said on Monday that the number of COVID-19 patients and deaths have increased during the last week compared to one week ago.

Sri Lankan army soldiers wait to receive the third jab of anti coronavirus vaccine in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. Sri Lankan authorities on Monday began to roll out COVID-19 booster shots to the frontline workers as the health experts warn of another surge of the virus. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

“It’s quite possible that we may get another surge,” she added.

Daily infections are currently below 500 and deaths under 20. Sri Lanka has so far counted a total of 540,531 confirmed cases and 13,725 deaths.

Sri Lanka lifted a six-week lockdown on Oct. 1 and since then, cinemas and restaurants have reopened, and travel restrictions between provinces have been lifted. Authorities still maintain some restrictions on public transport and discourage large public gatherings.

Health officials said plans have also been made to eventually give booster shots to those above 20 years of age.

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