SHANGHAI | Authorities in Shanghai on Monday defended their controversial policy of separating coronavirus-positive children from their parents amid growing frustration in China’s economic capital, which is under lockdown until further notice.
• Read also: COVID-19: discontent rises in Shanghai over containment
The metropolis of 25 million people is the epicenter of China’s worst COVID-19 outbreak since early 2020, linked to the Omicron variant. The vast majority of Shanghainese are now confined to their homes.
The Ministry of Health announced more than 9,000 new positive cases in Shanghai on Monday – 95% asymptomatic.
In China, anyone who tests positive, even asymptomatic, is isolated from uncontaminated people. Shanghai authorities confirmed on Monday that this measure also applies to children.
“If one of the parents is also infected, he can accompany the child and take care of him” in a dedicated place “where they will be treated”, Wu Qianyu, an official with the municipal health services, said on Monday.
But “if the members of the family do not fulfill the conditions of support”, that is to say are not contaminated themselves, the children will be separated from their parents, she underlined in front of the press. .
Those over 7 years old will be accommodated in quarantine centers and those under 7 years old, if they are alone, will be taken care of by public health centers – with a priori superior comfort.
Unverified videos have been circulating the Chinese internet in recent days showing very young unaccompanied children in what appears to be a quarantine hospital. They have fueled the anxiety of parents.
Many netizens criticized the Shanghai authorities’ new announcement on Monday.
“Parents must now ‘fulfill conditions’ to accompany their child? Absurd! It’s just a basic right ”, got carried away a user of the social network Weibo.
“Shanghai’s health services are inhumane,” complained another. “If I were a parent, I would get infected on purpose to be able to accompany my child,” wrote a third.
Discontent is also mounting in Shanghai over the authorities’ inability to overcome the current outbreak.
After several weeks of targeted closures of specific residential buildings, Shanghai has decreed strict confinements in the eastern and then western parts of the city in recent days. They were supposed to last four days each to carry out the screening of the inhabitants.
But while the containment was theoretically to be lifted this Tuesday in the city, it will finally continue due to the high number of positive cases detected.
“We will continue to carry out tests, continue the re-examination (of positive cases) and the transport of people” infected to quarantine centers, said the Shanghai health authorities without much surprise on Monday evening.
“Once these tasks are completed, the next control measures will be specified (…) Until then, the city will continue to apply the containment, except for people requiring medical treatment.”
More than 38,000 medical professionals from 15 provinces have been dispatched to Shanghai to help fight the outbreak, state broadcaster CCTV said Monday, quoting the Ministry of Health.
But if the logistics are relatively well oiled, many residents have complained in recent days of difficulties in obtaining supplies of fresh produce, accessing hospitals or taking their dogs out.
The Ministry of Health announced on Monday, for the second day in a row, more than 13,000 new positive cases in China – levels not reached since February 2020.