Shanghai health officials on Monday stopped un connecting children and infants from their parents if they test positive for covid-19 because the anger and aggressiveness are reaching a higher rate.
Almost 25 million people prevail locked down in China’s largest city and financial center, as authorities strive to extinguish the country’s most severe virus outbreak since the end of the first pandemic wave in early 2020.
Under China’s reserved virus controls, anyone found positive even if they are asymptomatic or have a usual infection must be taken isolated from non-infected people.
That includes children who test positive but whose family members do not, health officials confirmed on Monday, defending a policy that has spread anxiety and depression across the city.
“If the child is younger than seven years old, those children will receive treatment in a public health center,” Wu Qianyu, an official from the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, said Monday.
“For older children or teenagers… we are mainly isolating them in centralized (quarantine) places.”
Parents and guardians commented on their anger at the policy on social media.
“Parents need to meet ‘conditions’ to accompany their children? That’s absurd… it should be their most basic right,” one unnamed commenter wrote on the social media platform Weibo.
Unproved videos of babies and young children in state-run wards have been widely shared.
But Shanghai official Wu said the policy was fundamental to virus “prevention and control work”.
Children and parents should stay together if they test positive for covid-19. She added.
Frustration is rising in Shanghai, which on Monday recorded 9,000 new virus cases and is the epicenter of China’s outbreak.
Authorities in the starting promised not to lock down the whole city, but rather a target virus clusters with localized lockdowns of specific compounds or districts.
After weeks of increasing case numbers, city officials last week gave a rare admission of the failure of their tactics.
They introduced a two-stage lockdown, initially billed as lasting four days each to mass test both sides of the city.
Several days on, residents fear they are under an elongated stay-at-home order by stealth, impotent to exercise outside or walk dogs, and with limited access to fresh food.
While the custody was in theory set to be lifted Tuesday, the Shanghai government’s official WeChat account said it would stay in place due to the high number of positive cases detected.
China’s zero-Covid strategy is under extreme burden as the virus spread across the country, with another outburst in the northeast.
Until March, China had successfully kept down the daily caseload to double or triple digits, with harsh localized lockdowns, mass testing, and travel restrictions.
More than 38,000 health workers from 15 provinces have been sent to Shanghai to help stop the outbreak, state broadcaster CCTV reported Monday, quoting the Ministry of Health.
On Monday the nationwide caseload raised to 13,000 for a second day as the daily infection match reach rates unseen since mid-February 2020.