Nepal starts giving COVID-19 vaccine booster shots

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A health worker speaks to a man as she gives a dose of the Chinese Sinopharma vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Kathmandu, Nepal, July 6, 2021. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar/File Photo

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KATHMANDU, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Nepal began giving COVID-19 vaccine booster shots on Monday as coronavirus infections surged due to the spread of the Omicron variant, officials said.

Daily cases jumped by 4,961 on Sunday, the biggest 24-hour increase in more than six months, taking total infections to 955,206, government data showed. COVID-19-related deaths stand at 11,620, the data showed.

The booster shots will be restricted to frontline workers for one week from Monday, the Health Ministry said, after which they'll be offered to people 60 and older.

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“The booster shots will be given to those people who have completed six months after getting a second vaccine dose,” the government said in a statement.

Nepal, a natural buffer between China and India, has double-vaccinated 39.9% of its 30 million people in a campaign that began early last year.

The government has banned large public gatherings and closed schools and colleges until the end of January to curb the rate of infection.

Authorities have also made it compulsory for people to produce proof of full vaccination to use public services from this week, prompting large queues at vaccine centres.

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Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Tom Hogue

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