Beijing, Apr 6 (EFE).- Shanghai authorities will allow some parents to accompany children who have tested positive for Covid-19 after footage showing distressed minors in isolation went viral and prompted outrage on Chinese social media.
Shanghai is grappling with its biggest Covid outbreak since the pandemic began. City authorities on Wednesday reported 311 symptomatic cases and 16,766 asymptomatic cases of Covid-19.
Shanghai’s director of epidemic prevention and control, Gu Honghui, described the situation as “extremely grim.”
CHILDREN IN ISOLATION
China’s strict zero Covid policy means any infected person must be isolated in a hospital or an official quarantine center. This includes children who, as a result, have been separated from their parents when they do not also test positive.
Images and footage on social media showing children in crowded quarantine centers and babies sharing cribs sparked an outcry in China..
In response to the fury, Shanghai authorities announced Monday that parents could join their children in quarantine if they both test positive for coronavirus.
The move did not quell the mounting criticism.
“They are saying that if the parents want to accompany their children, the best thing they can do is get infected,” one citizen said on the Weibo social network.
On Wednesday, Wu Qianyu, a senior inspector of the Shanghai municipal health commission said that guardians and parents who are not infected will be allowed to accompany their Covid-stricken children after signing a letter of commitment stating their full understanding of the potential health risks.
China’s strict Covid isolation laws and soaring caseloads are placing an enormous amount of pressure on the city to find alternative venues where citizens can quarantine.
Local authorities Wednesday announced the start of a new PCR and antigen tests campaign for the city of 26 million people.
Residents in neighborhoods where positive cases were detected between April 1 and 5 will have to take a PCR test. Citizens living in areas where no positive cases were registered on those dates will take an antigen test.
Over 10,000 health workers, including some 2,000 military personnel, have been deployed to Shanghai to deal with the outbreak.
The financial hub announced zonal confinement on March 27 with districts east of the Huangpu River confined between March 28 to April 1 and districts west of the river in lockdown from April 1-5.
The government indefinitely extended the lockdown on both banks of the river Tuesday due to rocketing infections, amid growing discontent among residents who at times have struggled to buy food.
Reports from locals who unsuccessfully tried to buy food from home delivery services abound on social media.
Several Chinese provinces have sent food to Shanghai, such as Jiangsu or Henan, which supplied 800 tons of vegetables, but authorities have failed to adequately distribute provisions.