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Hong Kong lawmakers propose payments for Chinese vaccine takers

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (L) has agreed to receive Chinese vaccines amid skepticism about the product. File Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (L) has agreed to receive Chinese vaccines amid skepticism about the product. File Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA

Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Hong Kong is expected to receive 1 million shots of a mainland Chinese COVID-19 vaccine, but the city's politicians could be meeting with public resistance to inoculations and are looking at paying people to get the shots.

Lawmakers who support Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Wednesday that criticism is rising in the city as more residents express skepticism about the vaccine from mainland supplier Sinovac Biotech.

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"If there is nothing to motivate residents to be vaccinated, it will be the end of Hong Kong," said Leung Che-cheung of the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, according to the South China Morning Post. "So if [$387] is not enough, then give them [$645]."

The first million doses of Sinovac's vaccine are to arrive in Hong Kong in January. Other lawmakers also have supported cash incentives for residents who take the vaccine.

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Arisina Ma Chung-yee, president of the Public Doctors Association in Hong Kong, said Wednesday that she and other frontline health workers would receive the vaccine "after assessing the risks." Ma said allergies affecting the nervous system could be a side effect.

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China has previously been criticized for not being more open about its vaccine. Brazil recently reversed a decision to accept the Chinese product, citing lack of transparency from Chinese authorities.

Hong Kong has also ordered 1 million shots of a vaccine co-developed by BioNTech in Germany and Pfizer in the United States. The vaccines will be available within the first three months of 2021, Hong Kong has said.

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Hong Kong has managed to keep casualties and infections low. On Tuesday, the city reported 7,700 cases and 123 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

China could be focused on keep the virus out of the country.

Beijing's Civil Aviation Administration said on its homepage Wednesday that international flight routes used by passengers who later tested positive for COVID-19 are to be cut back.

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Routes in which flights included five or more COVID-19 patients are to fly every two weeks rather than weekly, where applicable, the Chinese agency said.

In September, Chinese leader Xi Jinping praised his country for suppressing the virus, which first spread nationwide in January.

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