Bahrain converts underused mall into vaccination center

MANAMA, March 25 (Reuters) – Bahrain has turned a shopping mall largely emptied by the coronavirus pandemic into a vaccination center as the Gulf state works to protect its population from COVID-19.

Sitra Mall used to attract people to access government offices, but the pandemic closed those outlets and their services were offered virtually.

With only a few fast food outlets and a supermarket open, Bahraini health officials this week turned the mall into a massive vaccination center.

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“A lot of people come on time,” said Basma Mahmoud, a public health and epidemiology consultant at the new center.

Behind her, people were flocking down the escalators and waiting in socially distant chairs lining the aisles where shoppers would have strolled.

Mahmoud said the center will accelerate Bahrain’s progress towards fully immunizing more than 50% of the population.

Bahrain offers citizens and residents four free vaccines: the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine (PFE.N), the one made by the Chinese company Sinopharm, the Oxford-AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccine and the Russian vaccine Sputnik V. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ .N vaccine) has also been approved for emergency use.

The Sitra shopping center offers Pfizer and Sinopharm shots.

The number of daily cases in the small island state began to decline from a peak in mid-February, but has risen again in recent days. Bahrain eased some of its coronavirus restrictions ten days ago, including allowing dining inside restaurants and reopening educational institutions to students.

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Report by Hamad Mohammed

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Peggy P. Gilmore