While others have launched health vaccination certificates for medical purposes or plan health passports, The People’s Republic of China says it is the first country in the world to launch a virus passport for domestic and international travel.
China has launched a green virus passport in the form of a health certificate. It will be a digital or paper certificate showing the vaccination status of a citizen and the results of tests and swabs performed. Mainlanders can go on the app, apply for a health passport, and upload their test and vaccination certifications.
The certificate can be obtained through the WeChat platform and is available only for Chinese citizens and will not be mandatory.
The programme includes an encrypted QR code allowing authorities of other countries to obtain health information of tourists from China. QR health codes within WeChat and other Chinese smartphone apps are already required to gain entry to domestic transport and many public spaces in China.
China says that the certificate is being rolled out to help promote world economic recovery and facilitate cross-border travel.
Tourism officials in Macau have said they are optimistic regarding China launching the health passport programme, which will allow mainland residents who have been vaccinated to travel internationally. Those who arrive from a destination other than Mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan will still need to undergo 21 days of quarantine.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged caution to countries considering health passports. “This is because the efficacy of vaccines in preventing transmission is not yet clear, and global vaccine supply is limited,” it has said.
China has not yet announced any relaxation of quarantine restrictions for people arriving in China who are vaccinated against Covid-19. The country’s health authorities are studying issues including whether vaccinated travellers to China could be exempted from 14 days of quarantine.