China to issue ‘health certificates’ for travel; open to vaccinate athletes for Games: Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Wang Yi did not go into details whether travellers holding the document would still have to undergo quarantine upon entering China. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING – China said on Sunday (March 7) that it would be issuing “health certificates” – an apparent first step to a global health passport – to allow for international travel amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The country is also open to working with the International Olympic Committee to immunise athletes taking part in the sporting event.

It would also be setting up regional vaccination sites to inoculate its citizens overseas, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at his annual press conference.

“We will introduce an international health certificate… and launch the Chinese version of an international electronic health travel document,” he said, which will allow for the verification of nucleic acid tests and vaccination records.

Mr Wang did not go into details about which countries would be included and whether travellers holding the document would still have to undergo quarantine upon entering China.

Beijing will also be launching operation “Spring Seed” – an initiative to vaccinate citizens outside China, using both Chinese and foreign-made vaccines.

“Whether it is a Chinese vaccine or a foreign vaccine, as long as it is safe and reliable, it is a good vaccine,” he said, calling on countries to make vaccine doses a public good.

Beijing has provided free doses to 69 developing countries where it is urgently needed. It is also exporting vaccines to 43 countries.

But Mr Wang stopped short of saying exactly how many doses have been provided.

“We are also willing to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee to provide vaccines to athletes preparing to participate in the Olympic Games,” he said.

“We oppose ‘vaccine nationalism’, do not accept the creation of an ‘immunity gap’, and resist any attempt to politicise vaccine cooperation,” he added.

China now has 17 vaccines in clinical trials but only three – by SinoPharm, Sinovac and CanSino – have been approved for emergency use domestically.

With the coronavirus outbreak largely under control in the country, Chinese scientists have been looking overseas, including in places like Brazil and Indonesia, for participants in final testing stages for the vaccines.

China has also committed 10 million doses to Covax, the international alliance working to ensure equal access to coronavirus vaccinations worldwide.

Source: Strait Times