COVID-19 outbreak China: Beijing imposes first mainland vaccine authorization against Omicron sub-drug

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

The official added that people “unsuitable” for vaccination would be exempted from this requirement, without explaining how they could provide evidence of the exemption.

It also remains unclear how people who have received the vaccination abroad can meet the requirements. China’s health code systems – which are used to prove vaccination – do not currently recognize foreign vaccines, and those vaccinated abroad have not been able to register their own.

Places with limited capacity or where reservations are required are required to give priority entry to vaccinated customers.

The official said that the elderly who visit places that offer activities for the elderly, such as recreational centers and game rooms, should be vaccinated as soon as possible.

The vaccine’s mandate comes as Beijing has reported three cases of BA.5.2 Omicron subvariant, which is highly transmissible and capable of escaping antibodies. The outbreak of the new variant is already Shut down the northwestern city of Xi’anEntertainment, sports and religious venues have been closed – and restaurants are limited to fast-food and delivery services – until next Wednesday.

Delayed vaccination rate for the elderly

China is still far from its continued approach to not spreading the coronavirus, which recently saw cities across the country – including Beijing and Shanghai – placed under full or partial lockdown. The strategy – which relies on mass testing, quarantines and sudden shutdowns to stem any resurgence of the virus – has devastated economic activity.

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The Chinese authorities have intensified their efforts to increase vaccination rates, especially among the elderly, as Omicron has caused a successive outbreak of the disease this year.

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

The city also asked people working in epidemic prevention and control, health care, public transportation, delivery and other high-risk sectors to fully vaccinate.

As of January, 98% of Beijing’s population of more than 20 million had been fully vaccinated, including 12 million who had received a booster dose, according to a government statement.

But the vaccination rate among the elderly is lower. And as of April, 80% of Beijing residents over the age of 60 have been vaccinated, Xinhua reported.

Residents line up to get a throat swab at a testing site in Beijing, on July 4.

On Chinese social media, users were quick to point out that the vaccine’s mandate in Beijing appeared to go against national health authorities’ guidance that vaccination should be voluntary.

When did voluntary vaccination become mandatory? A comment was made on the Chinese Twitter-like platform Weibo.

Last September, the National Health Commission said it was wrong for local governments to restrict the movement of unvaccinated people in order to speed up the vaccination campaign – and that such policies must be corrected in time.

“The vaccination against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) should be based on the principles of informed consent, and (be) voluntary,” said Wu Liangyu, deputy head of the commission. at a press conference.

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