Staff members unload Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines at San Salvador airport in San Salvador, El Salvador, on March 28, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

SAN SALVADOR – El Salvador announced Wednesday it is ready to distribute more vaccines as part of its national vaccination campaign against COVID-19, after a cargo of doses donated by China arrived late Tuesday.

Following the arrival of the shipment of CoronaVac vaccines, developed by the Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac, Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Chinese people via a message posted on social media.

El Salvador’s Minister of Health Francisco Alabi and Chinese Ambassador to El Salvador Ou Jianhong were both on hand to receive the shipment.

Alabi thanked the Chinese government for its support of the Central American country in fighting the pandemic, saying the vaccines represented hope and opportunity to protect Salvadorans.

“We are receiving much more hope in our country to continue moving forward,” Alabi said.

A cargo of Sinovac vaccines bought by El Salvador’s government landed several days ago at the same airport, said Ou.

“These important events once again demonstrate the success in anti-pandemic cooperation between China and El Salvador. It also vividly reflects the bonds of friendship … and partnership that bind us closely,” she added.

Alabi said the new batch of donated vaccines would be distributed by the National Biological Center to different parts of the country to boost the vaccination drive launched in February.

On Wednesday, El Salvador began the second phase of its vaccination plan, which targets those with chronic degenerative diseases, adults over 80, and groups at risk from COVID-19.

The first phase of the vaccination plan immunized healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic fight, as well as soldiers, police officers, firefighters and teachers.

The country has so far registered 65,491 COVID-19 cases and 2,037 deaths, according to the Salvadoran government.