Beijing repeats offer of Covid-19 vaccines as Taiwan reports 287 new cases
- Taiwanese who fly to mainland China can take shots, says body for cross-strait affairs, urging removal of ‘man-made obstacles for mainland vaccines’
- Mainland previously offered to send vaccines and specialists to the self-ruled island, which has had vaccines donated from Japan and the US
The Taiwan Affairs Office, Beijing’s main body for cross-strait affairs, on Friday said that Taiwanese who fly to mainland China can voluntarily receive Covid-19 shots as long as they meet vaccination requirements and follow outbreak control measures.
“[We] urge the authorities to earnestly listen to the voices of the people on the island and remove the man-made obstacles for mainland vaccines to enter Taiwan as soon as possible, so that Taiwan compatriots can get safe and effective mainland vaccines,” Ma Xiaoguang, the office’s spokesman, was quoted as saying by state news agency Xinhua.
Ma said that an estimated 62,000 Taiwanese people had been vaccinated on the mainland as of May 31, although many Taiwanese are mainland residents, with 158,000 registering in the mainland’s latest census, published last month. The Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday that more than 200,000 foreign nationals had been vaccinated in China.
The offer to Taiwan came as the island’s Central Epidemic Command Centre reported 287 new infections – one imported and the rest local – and 24 new deaths.
“The numbers of cases dropped compared with last week,” Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said. “But Covid-19 is still here and we need to stay vigilant.”
When asked about the status of Taiwanese wishing to travel to the mainland for jabs, Chen said there was no quarantine-free arrangement for vaccinated Taiwan residents on their return, adding that mainland vaccines had not received emergency-use approval in Taiwan.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen told a local radio station on Friday that “Covid-19 has been controlled to a certain degree, unlike in some countries that experienced large-scale spread”.
On the tight vaccine supply this month, she said production plants for British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca’s vaccine in Thailand and India, which were supplying Taiwan, had prioritised vaccines for domestic use to tackle those countries’ infections.
The WHO has approved two mainland vaccines, developed by state-owned Sinopharm and Sinovac. They are among the seven mainland vaccines used in a vaccination drive that had administrated about 825 million doses as of Thursday.