Sri Lanka announced Friday it was ending its work-from-home option for civil servants, ordering all 1.2 million back to the office from Monday despite a surge in coronavirus infections.
The island's top bureaucrat, P.B. Jayasundera, said there was no need for officials to work from home since "the majority... have been vaccinated".
The move came even as Sri Lanka recorded a doubling in daily Covid-19 cases to around 2,000 compared to early July, with hospitals struggling to cope.
Government figures show that 9.17 million people, or 43 percent of the population, have had one vaccine dose, and more than two million people have received two shots.
Sri Lanka has recorded at least 4,300 coronavirus deaths and almost 305,000 infections in total, according to official data seen widely as an underestimate.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The new wave of infections is blamed partly on the government having relaxed restrictions on activity in April to allow celebrations for the traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
Regulations were tightened in May and eased again earlier this month.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.