East Timor receives first batch of COVID-19 vaccines to begin inoculation drive this week

FILE PHOTO: Vials labelled “COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine” are placed on dry ice in this illustration taken, December 4, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

DILI (Reuters) – East Timor received its first batch of coronavirus vaccine on Monday, arranged by the global vaccine sharing scheme COVAX, the European Union, which backs the initiative said, as the tiny Southeast Asian nation readies to start an inoculation drive on Wednesday.

A total of 24,000 doses has arrived as planned from the facility which plans to provide vaccines enough to cover 20% of the country’s population of 1.3 million.

The former Portuguese colony has detected 714 cases of the coronavirus, most of which it said were imported, and no casualty so far.

But its porous border with Indonesia, which has recorded around 1.53 million COVID-19 cases and 41,600 deaths as of Sunday, has raised concern the virus could spread and wreak havoc on East Timor’s poorly equipped healthcare system.

East Timor put its capital city on a coronavirus lockdown last month for the first time amid fears of a local outbreak.

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