The Shanghai government on Wednesday announced limited “exceptions” to a policy separating children from their parents during China’s state-imposed coronavirus quarantines.
“Caregivers of special needs children infected with Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] may ask to escort them,” Shanghai health official Wu Qianyu paraphrased Reuters on April 6.
Wu revealed the new policy adjustment at a regular press conference on Wednesday after a reporter asked her about Shanghai’s controversial quarantine rules, which include strict separations of children from their parents.
Parents who choose to accompany children with special needs in quarantine “must sign a letter stating that they are aware of the risks and will be required to comply with protective measures such as [as] masks and not sharing household items with children,” the Shanghai health official noted on April 6.
On April 4, Wu defended the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission’s policy of forcibly separating babies and children from their parents in the name of quarantine enforcement.
“If the child is under seven years old, these children will be treated in a public health center,” she told reporters during a press briefing on Monday, quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP). ).
“For older children or teenagers…we mainly isolate them in centralized (quarantine) places,” Wu said.
Shanghai’s current Chinese coronavirus quarantine strategy requires anyone who tests positive for the virus to be isolated from uninfected people, even if positive cases are asymptomatic or show only mild symptoms of the disease. The severe demarcation applies to “children who test positive but whose family members are not”, observed AFP on Monday.
The news agency reported on April 4 that Chinese citizens have openly spoken out against child separations in Shanghai on Chinese social media platforms, such as the Twitter-like Weibo microblog, in recent days.
“Do parents have to meet ‘conditions’ to accompany their children? This is nonsense…it should be their most basic right,” an anonymous Chinese netizen reportedly wrote on Weibo.
“Unverified videos of babies and young children in public wards have been widely shared,” AFP further revealed on April 4, referring to makeshift quarantine hospitals for Chinese coronavirus patients in Shanghai.
The controversy over the separation of children in Shanghai this week has only added to the city’s growing woes. The metropolis of nearly 26 million people has been on lockdown to varying degrees since March 28 as city health officials try to contain the latest Chinese coronavirus outbreak in Shanghai. Shanghai first launched anti-epidemiological measures on March 11 when the city government closed all schools to curb a novel Chinese coronavirus outbreak. The city, which is China’s most densely populated, has failed to avert a spike in cases of the disease in the month since then, despite its desperate lockdown and quarantine measures.
“In a major test of China’s zero-tolerance strategy to stamp out the novel coronavirus, the government has expanded the lockdown to eastern parts of the city and extended restrictions in western districts until further notice, which were due to expire on Tuesday. [April 5]“reported Reuters of Shanghai’s recently extended lockdown.