Bahrain has converted a mall largely emptied by the COVID-19 pandemic to a vaccination hub as the Gulf state races to protect its population from the coronavirus.
Sitra Mall used to draw people in to access government offices, but the pandemic shut those outlets and their services were offered virtually.
With only a few fast food outlets and a supermarket open, the country’s health authorities this week turned the mall into a giant vaccination hub.
Basma Mahmoud, a public health and epidemiology consultant at the new center, said “a lot of people are coming per hour.”
Behind her, people streamed up escalators and waited on socially distanced chairs lining walkways where shoppers would have wandered.
Mahmoud said the center will accelerate Bahrain’s progress towards getting over half of the population fully inoculated.
Bahrain offers citizens and residents four vaccines free of charge: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, one manufactured by China’s Sinopharm, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and Russia’s Sputnik V. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has also been approved for emergency use.
Sitra mall offers the Pfizer and Sinopharm doses.
Daily case numbers in the small island state started to fall from a mid-February high, but increased again in recent days. Bahrain eased some of its COVID-19 restrictions ten days ago, including allowing eating inside restaurants and reopening educational institutions to students.