An officer wearing protective gear walks inside the airport as Sri Lanka's government scheduled to reopen the country's airports for tourists from Jan 21, 2021, as they were closed since March 2020 due to spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake, Sri Lanka Jan 20, 2021. [Photo/Agencies] COLOMBO - Sri Lankan authorities on Friday granted approval for the emergency use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19, Minister for Pharmaceutical Production and Regulation Channa Jayasumana told local reporters. Jayasumana said the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) had granted the approval for the emergency use of the British vaccine while several other vaccines were also in the pipeline at the National Medicines Regulatory Authority. This the first time Sri Lanka has approved a vaccine for emergency use in the island country. State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle said the vaccine will be imported to Sri Lanka by mid-February. She said Sri Lanka will get 20 percent of the population covered by the World Health Organization while for another 30 percent of the population, the government will purchase a vaccine. "Our intention is to cover at least 50 percent of the population," Fernandopulle said. Sri Lanka has to date recorded over 56,000 positive COVID-19 patients and recorded 276 deaths.