Sri Lankan municipal health workers take a swab sample from a man to test for COVID-19 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. Sri Lanka on Thursday re-opened the country for tourists after keeping the doors closed for the visitors for nearly 10 months due to the COVID-19. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka on Friday approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 amid warnings from doctors that front-line health workers should be quickly inoculated to prevent the medical system from collapsing.
Minister for Pharmaceutical Production and Regulation Channa Jayasumana said the vaccine is the first to be approved for emergency use in Sri Lanka, while several other candidates are in the pipeline at the National Medicines Regulatory Authority.
It is unknown when Sri Lanka will be getting the vaccine.
“Hundreds of health care workers have tested positive in several hospitals. When you have one positive case, about 10 health workers will need to be sent to quarantine. The system is collapsing day by day,” said Dr. Haritha Aluthge from the Government Medical Officers’ Association, the largest doctors’ union in the country.
“Vaccines need to be given quickly to keep the health workers’ morals up and we need health workers to treat patients,” Aluthge said.
After two months during which no locally transmitted cases were reported, a random test on a factory worker in October led to the detection of a new cluster. At about the same time, the owner of an eatery near the country’s main fish market alerted authorities about a rise in the sale of paracetamol, an indication people were suffering from fevers. Testing of fish vendors detected a second cluster.
In the more than three months since then, Sri Lanka has reported more than 52,000 new patients and 260 deaths. Between 500 to 900 new cases are reported every day.
Doctors blame complacency.
“We were a success story, but the issue was we all as Sri Lankans forgot COVID-19 was existing. We thought that COVID was over,” said Senal Fernando, secretary of the doctors' union.
7 Hotel Stocks Just Waiting For the Vaccine
Like any group of stocks related to travel and tourism, hotel stocks saw a steep drop in share prices in 2020. The leisure and hospitality sector that once had 15 million employees has lost 4 million jobs since February.
Many major cities will be feeling the ripple effects of the Covid-19 pandemic for years. However, there is ample evidence that shows the pandemic may be coming to an end. The number of new cases is dropping. The number of those getting vaccinated is rising. And even in the cities with the most restrictive mitigation measures, the slow process of reopening is beginning.
All of this can’t come fast enough for individuals who rely on the travel and tourism industry for their livelihood. Hotel chains had at least some revenue coming in the door. And when earnings season concludes, the more budget-friendly hotel chains may realize revenue that is 75% of its 2019 numbers. But that is not enough to bring the hotels to anywhere near full employment. Particularly with hotels that have bars and restaurants that have remained closed or open at limited capacity.
Many economists are optimistic that travel may begin to look more normal by the summer of this year. And the global economy may deliver 6.4% GDP growth this year. With that in mind, the hotel chains with the best fundamentals and the broadest footprint will be in the best position as the economy reopens.
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