COVID-19 – China becomes first country to unveil ‘virus passport’

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Passengers, wearing protective facemasks, walk at the arrival area of the Beijing Capital International airport on January 31, 2020. The World Health Organization declared an international emergency after China's National Health Commission said nearly 8,000 people had been infected, and about 100 cases were reported outside China. / AFP / NOEL CELIS

BEIJING – China has become first country in the world to roll out a digital health certificate programme or a “virus passport” for Chinese citizens travelling internationally in a move to boost world economy recovery and travel.

The international version of China’s travel health certificate was officially launched on Monday on Chinese social media platform WeChat by the Department of Consular Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, said state-run CGTN.

The step has been taken “to help promote world economic recovery and facilitate cross-border travel,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

The certificate, which has not been declared mandatory by China, is being dubbed as world’s first “virus passport”.

The United States and Britain are also considering the same measures.

The certificate includes nucleic acid test and serum antibody results, vaccine inoculation and other information.

It has an encrypted code to allow authorities to verify the holder’s personal information, according to the ministry.

China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that in the near future, as more and more countries agree on mutual recognition of health certificates with China, this international travel health document will play a greater role in promoting the healthy, safe and orderly exchange of transnational personnel, and provide Chinese citizens a solid guarantee when traveling abroad.