China Covid outbreak continues to spread
China reported 35 new domestic cases on Monday, as authorities continue to battle an outbreak of the Delta variant primarily centred around Inner Mongolia but which has spread to at least 11 provinces.
China is one of the few remaining countries still pursuing a Zero Covid strategy, and has again responded to the latest outbreak with travel restrictions, stay-inside orders and other measures.
At least four people are under investigation for breaching pandemic measures, and several officials in Inner Mongolia have been punished, including the local health commission’s deputy director who has been removed from her post, according to Caixin.
The outbreak of more than 150 cases so far has spread through tour groups traveling between provinces, health authorities have said. This morning local government officials in Gansu revealed dozens of tour groups are stranded in the province, comprising more than 420 tourists.
Beijing, which has recorded several cases linked to Inner Mongolia tourists, has barred from entry anyone who has been to an affected area, and postponed its upcoming annual marathon.
New Zealand announces vaccine mandates for 40% of workforce
New Zealand is announcing sweeping vaccine mandates for workers in cafes, bars, hairdressers and gyms, as the country aims for some of the world’s highest vaccination rates.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said the government would also require businesses to provide paid time off to allow workers to get vaccinated.
Under the new rules, vaccination will be required for all workers at businesses where customers need to show Covid-19 vaccination certificates – under New Zealand’s new framework, that includes hospitality and close-contact businesses like hairdressers and gyms whenever there is a “red” or “orange” level of traffic light restrictions. The changes are expected to affect about 40% of New Zealand’s workforce. Those who do not comply with vaccination mandates can be given 4 weeks notice by employers. Unemployment benefits and support will not be affected in any way if people are dismissed as a result of refusal to get vaccinated.
The measures won’t come into force until New Zealand moves to its new epidemic management model, which happens when the country passes 90% vaccination.
Asked if the changes were “government overreach,” Ardern said “absolutely not”.
“We’ve been very careful here to make an assessment of those areas that throughout this outbreak and throughout COVID-19 have always been assessed as high risk,” she said.
“We are trying to be very careful to ensure that everything we’re doing has a public health basis to it, and also balances out the rights of those who are both workers [and] also the rights of those who may be clients or customers.”