Beijing imposes the first covid-19 vaccine mandate in mainland China for the omicron subvariant

Beijing covid-19 vaccine mandate in mainland China for the omicron subvariant

Beijing on Wednesday announced a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for residents to enter public places, becoming the first city in mainland China to do so as it tries to contain a highly infectious omicron subvariant.

Starting July 11, people will be required to show proof of vaccination to enter a wide range of public places in the Chinese capital, including cinemas, libraries, museums, gyms, stadiums and training centers, a China health official said. the city at a press conference on Wednesday.

People who are “unfit” for vaccination will be exempt from the requirement, the official added, without clarifying how they can prove the exemption.

It’s also unclear how people who received the vaccine abroad can meet the requirement. China’s health code systems, which are used to show proof of vaccination, do not currently recognize foreign vaccinations, and those who were vaccinated abroad have been unable to register their vaccinations.

Places that have limited capacity or where reservations are necessary are required to prioritize entry to vaccinated customers.

Older adults who visit places that offer specific activities for older adults, such as recreation centers and game rooms, should be vaccinated as soon as possible, the official said.

The vaccine mandate comes as Beijing reported three cases of the BA.5.2 omicron subvariant, which is highly transmissible and capable of escaping antibodies. An outbreak of the new subvariant has already shut down the northwestern city of Xi’an, where entertainment, sports and religious venues were closed, and restaurants limited to takeout and delivery services, until next Wednesday.

A medical worker takes a swab sample at a nucleic acid testing station in Beijing on July 6, 2022.

Delay in the vaccination rate of the elderly

China remains an outlier for its continued Covid-zero approach, which has seen cities across the country, including Beijing and Shanghai, recently placed under full or partial lockdowns. The strategy, which relies on mass testing, lockdowns and rapid lockdowns to stamp out any resurgence of the virus, has wrecked economic activity.

Chinese authorities have redoubled efforts to increase vaccination rates, especially among the elderly, since omicron sparked successive outbreaks this year.

In Beijing, residents are already required to show proof of a negative covid test taken within 72 hours to enter all public places.

The city has also required people working in epidemic prevention and control, health care, public transportation, delivery and other higher-risk sectors to be fully vaccinated.

As of January, 98% of Beijing’s more than 20 million residents have been fully vaccinated, including 12 million people who have received a booster shot, according to a government statement.

But the vaccination rate among the elderly is lower. As of April, 80% of Beijing residents over the age of 60 had been vaccinated, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

On Chinese social media, users were quick to point out that Beijing’s vaccination mandate seemed to contradict guidance from national health authorities that vaccination should be voluntary.

“When did voluntary vaccination become mandatory?” reads a comment on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform.

Last September, the National Health Commission said that it was wrong for local governments to impose restrictions on the movement of unvaccinated people to speed up the inoculation campaign, and that such policies should be corrected in a timely manner.

“Covid-19 vaccination should be based on the principles of informed consent and (be) voluntary,” Wu Liangyou, deputy director of the commission, told a news conference.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.