BEIJING (AP) — Following a public outcry, Shanghai will allow parents to stay with children infected with COVID-19 as China’s largest city sees a further rise in cases.
A senior city health commission inspector said Wednesday that parents who “fully understand the health risks” and sign an agreement will be allowed to accompany their children to monitoring facilities.
However, parents should wear masks, eat separately, avoid sharing personal items and “strictly follow” all aspects of the management system, Wu Ganyu told reporters.
The news that the parents were separated from their infected children sparked a wave of protests online, further fueled by photos showing several children being held in each bed and no parent in sight.
Shanghai remains under full lockdown to tackle China’s latest outbreak, now well into the second week of what was originally announced as a two-stage measure lasting just eight days. Officials say they will decide on further measures after analyzing test results from more than 25 million residents of the city.
Shanghai on Wednesday reported another 17,077 cases detected over the previous day, with all but 311 people showing no symptoms. The city is requiring that anyone who tests positive but is asymptomatic be detained in designated locations for observation, along with their close contacts.
The latest figures bring the total number of cases in Shanghai to around 90,000 in the latest wave of infections that began last month. No deaths have been attributed to the outbreak caused by the omicron BA.2 variant, which is much more infectious but also less lethal than the previous delta strain.
While China’s vaccination rate hovers around 90%, its locally produced inactivated virus vaccines are considered weaker than mRNA vaccines such as those produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna that are used overseas. as well as in the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau. . Vaccination rates among the elderly are also much lower than those of the population as a whole, with only about half of people over 80 fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, complaints have been filed in Shanghai about difficulties obtaining food and daily necessities, and shortages of medical staff, volunteers and beds in isolation wards where tens of thousands of people are kept under observation.
Beijing is also tightening measures after 11 cases were detected in the Chinese capital in recent days.
Authorities have closed a shopping and office center in the bustling Wangjing district and require people arriving in the city to report to their places of work or residence within 12 hours and undergo a COVID-19 test within 72 hours. . They must undergo another test within 48 hours of returning to their place of work.
Despite growing public frustration and concerns over the economic effects, China says it is sticking to its uncompromising ‘zero tolerance’ approach of imposing lockdowns, mass testing and mandatory isolation of all cases suspects and close contacts.