Sri Lanka on Monday began to inoculate Chinese Nationals who are working and living in the South Asian Island Country to help them prevent COVID-19.

The “Spring Sprout” vaccination program was announced by Chinese State Councilor & Foreign Minister Wang Yi on March 7 in Beijing when meeting media from across the world, aiming to help and secure vaccination for overseas Chinese free of charge.

A launch ceremony held in Colombo Port City, a modern city with booming development of the Belt & Road Initiative, witnessed the first shot. Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong and the country’s State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Channa Jayasumana attended the ceremony.

Meanwhile, three more vaccination sites have been set up in Kandy, Putram & Hambantota for the convenience of Chinese Nationals Residing in these areas.

The first round of the vaccination program in Sri Lanka is expected to wrap up by Tuesday.

Moreover, the country has already included Chinese nationals into their vaccination plans free of charge. According to Jayasumana, thousands of Chinese nationals are expected to receive Sinopharm jabs in Sri Lanka early in the week.

Chinese Nationals in Sri Lanka who get vaccinated against COVID-19 have expressed their gratitude to the Communist Party of China (CPC), the Chinese government and the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka for their role in the vaccination drive.

“It’s unexpected that I would be lucky enough to be the first Chinese national in Sri Lanka to receive the China-produced COVID-19 vaccine. I am grateful to the Party, the Chinese government and the [Chinese] Embassy in Sri Lanka, for their care of us overseas compatriots,” said Ma Xiang, representative of Exim Bank of China in Sri Lanka.

Health Ministry data showed around 9,000 Chinese nationals currently live in Sri Lanka. A total of 93,595 confirmed cases have been reported in the country thus far, with 586 deaths related to the disease.