China’s Digital Response to Covid-19 Hits a Generational Glitch

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China’s Digital Response to Covid-19 Hits a Generational Glitch

China is rolling out new measures to help seniors, as the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbates the digital divide for its rapidly aging population.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, released a document last week calling on businesses and local authorities to take steps to assist seniors, including accepting cash and allowing paper alternatives to the digital health codes that have been required to access most public places—from hospitals to shopping centers to office buildings—during the pandemic.

China, which has leapfrogged other countries in the use of digital payments, was already tricky terrain for those uncomfortable with technology. But the pandemic has amplified the problem.

Recent incidents have sparked outrage on Chinese social media over poor treatment of the elderly. In August, state broadcaster CCTV and other Chinese media reported that an elderly man had been forced off a bus during rush hour in Harbin, in northern Heilongjiang province, because he didn’t scan his health code.

Last week, Chinese media reported that an elderly person in Yichang, in central Hubei province, had weathered the rain to pay for medical insurance but was rejected because cash wasn’t allowed.

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