Sri Lanka orders COVID-19 booster shots for frontline workers, tourism industry

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By Reuters
Sri Lanka orders COVID-19 booster shots for frontline workers, tourism industry
Sri Lanka orders COVID-19 booster shots for frontline workers, tourism industry   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  

<div> <p>By Uditha Jayasinghe</p> <p><span class="caps">COLOMBO</span> – Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday ordered frontline workers and tourism staff to be given a third booster shot of <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 vaccine next month, part of a bid to reopen the travel industry and revive the economy.</p> <p>More than 1 million people including security personnel, health care staff and tourism industry workers will be given third shots of the Pfizer vaccine beginning Nov. 1, the president’s office said in a statement.</p> <p>So far Sri Lanka has fully vaccinated a little over 60% of its 22 million people. The country depends on international tourism, and partially rolled back <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 restrictions late last month, allowing fully vaccinated travellers with a negative test to enter without quarantine.</p> <p>Earnings from tourism plummeted from $4.3 billion in 2018 to just $33 million in the first eight months of this year. Reviving the industry is seen as crucial to restoring reserves which stood at just $2.6 billion at the end of September.</p> <p>Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said there was strong interest from travellers from countries such as Russia, Britain, France and Germany, and that international flights will be increased from next month. </p> <p>“The target is to have a strong winter season from November to March or April of next year,” he told Reuters.</p> <p>An estimated 400,000 people are employed in the tourism industry. Some travel limits, including on trains between provinces, will be lifted only from Nov. 1 as the authorities focus on reducing the death rate from <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 to zero.</p> <p/> </div>