Covıd-19, Coronavirus, Thailand

Covıd-19, Coronavirus

China, in global campaign, vaccinates its citizens in Thailand against COVID-19

China, in global campaign, vaccinates its citizens in Thailand against COVID-19

20/5/2021 1:32:00 PM

China, in global campaign, vaccinates its citizens in Thailand against COVID-19

China, in global campaign, vaccinates its citizens in Thailand against COVID-19

AsiaA Chinese volunteer helps Chinese citizens getting registered for vaccinations at the Bangrak Vaccination and Health Center in Bangkok on Thursday, May 20, 2021. (Photo: AP/Fu Ting)20 May 2021 06:01PMShare this contentBookmarkBANGKOK: Chinese citizens living in Thailand started getting COVID-19 jabs on Thursday (May 20) as part of China's global campaign to inoculate its nationals living and working abroad.

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The vaccines were donated by China to be administered to its nationals as Thailand slowly rolls out shots for its own citizens to contain a coronavirus surge that has sickened tens of thousands in the past two months.AdvertisementAdvertisementIt was unclear how many of the 150,000 Chinese citizens living in Thailand will be inoculated under Beijing’s “Spring Sprouts” program in this round of inoculations, but China recently donated 500,000 vaccine doses to Thailand. China has so far supplied millions of doses to the country.

The Thai government has said it will vaccinate Thais before inoculating most other foreigners, regardless of risk factors or age.Just over 2 per cent of Thailand's 70 million people have received a first vaccine dose and about 1 per cent have received a second. The government hopes to inoculate

70 per centof its people by the end of the year, but has been criticised for taking too long to start vaccinating.A health worker administers a dose of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine to Zhang Xiaohong, a 40-year-old businessman who runs a logistics company in Thailand, at Bangrak Vaccination and Health Center in Bangkok on Thursday, May 20, 2021. (Photo: AP/Fu Ting)

AdvertisementAdvertisementIn downtown Bangkok, a Chinese volunteer with a white mask, transparent face shield and blue gloves stood in front of a red banner reading “Spring Sprout Action” flanked by the flags of China and Thailand at a vaccination centre.

A dozen people waited to get a cursory medical check as nurses, accompanied by a translator, gave Chinese-made Sinovac shots in another room.“I am happy and proud to be able to get a vaccine on day one organised by my government,” said Zhang Xiaohong, 40, who runs a logistics company in Thailand. He said he believes the Chinese government cares about its people.

Qin Qing, a 39-year-old real estate broker in Bangkok, said she was a bit nervous before getting the shot and felt slightly dizzy afterwards.Advertisement“I am grateful for my country and the embassy, and people who help to make it happen, from airline staff who fly the vaccines here and Thai medical workers," she said.

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READ: Thailand starts COVID-19 vaccinations for monks at riskThailand had largely contained coronavirus cases last year by closing its borders, enforcing mandatory quarantines and actively tracing contacts of those found to be infected. The measures devastated its lucrative tourism industry but kept the pandemic at bay, for the most part, until early April.

Then a surge that began in high-end nightspots in central Bangkok spread rapidly as people were allowed to travel during a mid-April national holiday.On Thursday, health authorities reported 2,636 new cases and 25 deaths for a total of 119,585 infections and 703 deaths since the pandemic began. Of that number, 90,722 confirmed cases and 609 deaths have been recorded since Apr 1.

A partial lockdown in recent weeks has made limited headway in containing outbreaks, especially in Bangkok and in prisons.The capital has been hit especially hard, with thousands of cases surfacing in slums, crowded low-income housing and camps housing construction workers.

Thailand has a population of about 70 million. More than 2.5 million are from neighbouring countries, including Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Many are employed at construction sites and in factories.Chinese nationals are the most numerous foreigners living in Thailand who are not from neighbouring countries. They are the only foreigners being vaccinated under the Spring Sprouts campaign.

Natapanu Nopakun, deputy spokesman for Thailand's foreign ministry, said on Thursday that there are around 1.3 million legal migrant workers in Bangkok and its vicinity and more than 1 million illegal ones across the country. The labour ministry intends to inoculate them as well because their high mobility is a risk factor in curbing infections.

Another 200,000 foreigners - from Australia, Japan, Europe, the United States and elsewhere - are mostly professionals and retirees. For now, they can only obtain COVID-19 shots by travelling overseas and would face lengthy, expensive quarantines on their return.

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Coronavirus: Joe Biden announces vaccine donation plan to check China and RussiaUS President Joe Biden billed a plan to distribute some 80 million Covid-19 vaccine doses worldwide as part of efforts to counter China and Russia, and boasted of quantities distributed overseas that exceed what the two countries have contributed. “There‘s a lot of talk about Russia and China influencing in the world with vaccines,” Biden said in an address from the White House. “We want to lead the world with our values. Just as in World War II, America was the arsenal of democracy, in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, our nation is going to be the arsenal of vaccines for the rest of the world.” Biden pledged to send 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration – those made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – to countries in need, in addition to the 60 million doses made by AstraZeneca slated to be shipped once that jab is approved by the regulatory body.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. “This will be more vaccines than any country has actually shared to date, five times more than any other country, more than Russia and China,” Biden said. He added that “we will not use our vaccines to secure favours from other countries”, reiterating a talking point that many in his administration, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have used as they warn other countries that donated doses from China come with strings attached. China had donated a combined 17.4 million doses of Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines to countries in need of the shots as of May 17, according to Beijing-based Bridge Consulting. That compares with 651 million doses of the two companies’ vaccines sold overseas so far. China seeks to boost influence by filling ‘vaccine vacuum’ in poor nations Biden put Jeff Zients, who leads the White Hous