Colombian president thanks China for latest batch of Sinovac vaccines

Colombia's President Ivan Duque speaks during the arrival of Chinese Sinovac vaccine doses amid the pandemic in Bogota, Colombia, Feb 20, 2021. (Photo: Courtesy Colombian Presidency/Handout via Xinhua)

BOGOTA, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Colombian President Ivan Duque thanked China for the new batch of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines that arrived here on Saturday and its contribution to the advancement of the country's national vaccination program.

"From Colombia, we say thank you (to the Chinese people), because at this juncture, this diplomatic relationship ... is becoming stronger after four decades of bilateral relations," the president said at a press conference in the northern city of Barranquilla.

Noting that the two sides must work together to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, Duque said that "We hope that our relations will become stronger and more solid day by day."

Duque also said that this batch of vaccines from China will "continue to be deployed throughout the country to advance the National Vaccination Plan."

The Ministry of Health and Social Protection has sent Sinovac vaccines to the remote regions of Colombia, especially the Amazon region, and the vaccines are expected to be rolled out next week in places such as prisons and nursing homes.

A total of 6,761 new COVID-19 cases and 136 more deaths were reported, bringing the nationwide tally to 2,331,187 and the death toll to 61,907, the ministry said Saturday.