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Mainland China is one of the last places in the world pursuing a zero-COVID goal, and lately, cases have been increasing. This has led to more lockdowns and stricter curbs, causing economic headwinds and a pessimistic outlook that the country will reopen to the world anytime soon. Making things more challenging, only 68.7% of people over age 60 have had three doses of a COVID vaccine, according to official figures.
On Tuesday, Beijing announced a new campaign to increase these numbers. The country wants to boost vaccination rates among the elderly (especially for citizens over 80 years old) and reduce severe illnesses and deaths from the growing COVID outbreak. During a press conference, health officials confirmed the new plan without explicitly mentioning protests against COVID curbs happening in some places in the country. Recently, local governments have relaxed some restrictions, hoping to reduce the impact on everyone’s daily life. But, state media reiterated on Tuesday that China is not straying from its zero-COVID approach.
“In the next step, we will seriously implement the requirements of the plan, guide local authorities to carefully organize, prepare and improve vaccination services, and do well to provide coronavirus booster shots and vaccination for the elderly,” said Xia Gang, deputy director of the Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control.
“The 20 improvement measures are important in making pandemic control more scientific and precise. We must neither dial down strict prevention and control because of the 20 improvement measures nor pile measures on top of more measures, resort to one-size-fits-all or simplistic approaches,” said a People’s Daily opinion piece.