Azerbaijan has begun vaccinating for COVID-19 using the CoronaVac vaccine, developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech.
Since the first case was registered in February, 227,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Azerbaijan, with almost 3,000 having passed away.
Vaccination was due to begin on Monday, according to the coronavirus Operational Headquarters under the Cabinet of Ministers.
The vaccines will be given primarily to people at risk, starting with health workers, people over 65 years of age, and law enforcement staff involved in anti-epidemic measures.
In the second stage, scheduled to begin on 1 February, those at high medical risk (people with chronic diseases such as respiratory system, hemodialysis, diabetes, and obesity) and people working in the education and social sector. Preference will also be given to public sector workers.
Health Minister Oktay Shiraliyev as well as other top health officials were the first to be vaccinated, at the Baku Health Centre. This was followed by health workers, with doctors from the Baku Health Center first in line.
According to Shahmar Movsumov, an assistant to the president, 4 million doses of the vaccine, enough for 2 million people, will be delivered from Sinovac’s regional office.
He also said Azerbaijan was expecting 2 million doses of vaccines from the COVAX facility, which is administered by the GAVI global vaccine alliance and World Health Organisation.
Azerbaijan has also changed the quarantine measures. On Monday, a requirement to obtain permission via SMS or online to leave home in major population centres throughout the country was lifted.
However, the special quarantine regime in the country, along with certain restrictions, has been extended until 06:00 on 1 April.
Effective from 25 January, restrictions on retail facilities (except for shopping centres), hairdressers and beauty salons, and museums and showrooms will be lifted. Long-distance transportation will also resume.
From 1 February, customer service will resume in restaurants, cafes ,and tea houses from 06:00 to 00:00.
The suspension of the Baku subway, and all public transport on Saturdays and Sundays will remain in force until the end of the quarantine regime.