US evacuates Shanghai consulate personnel due to Covid-19 lockdown
Beijing, Apr 12 (EFE).- The United States state department ordered the evacuation of non-emergency personnel from its consulate in Shanghai along with their families amid surging Covid-19 cases and strict measures imposed by Chinese authorities to contain them, the mission said in a Tuesday statement.
“The movement from ‘authorized’ to ‘ordered’ departure means that we are now mandating that certain employees depart Shanghai rather than making this decision voluntary,” the consulate said of the Monday evacuation order.
The department also urged US citizens in its latest travel advisory to “reconsider travel to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws and Covid-19-related restrictions.”
It also advised against traveling to Hong Kong, the Jilin province and the Shanghai municipality due to strict measures imposed to curb coronavirus outbreaks, “including the risk of parents and children being separated.”
During the prolonged lockdown in Shanghai, residents have struggled to stock up on food and other basic products although authorities have distributed some among the population.
Beijing said Saturday it had submitted a formal complaint to Washington for criticizing its Covid-19 restrictions, which include the lockdown of entire cities as in the case of Shanghai.
“We are strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to the US side’s groundless accusation against China’s epidemic response policies, and have lodged solemn representations with the US side,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.
This was in response to a US announcement authorizing the voluntary departure of personnel and family members at the Shanghai consulate the day before.
As most countries have begun a new phase of living with the virus, Chinese authorities have stuck to their “zero Covid-19” strategy despite the last wave having so far resulted in two deaths and a sharp increase in mainly asymptomatic cases.
The total number of active infections in mainland China stand at 21,991, including 77 of whom are serious, according to the data of the country’s National Health Commission.
According to the agency, since the start of the pandemic, 166,849 people in the country have been infected with the virus and 4,638 have died, the last two in March, which were the first Covid-19 deaths recorded in more than a year. EFE