Shanghai facilitates separation of children under COVID policy, but prolongs blockade

SHANGHAI, April 6 (Reuters) – Shanghai on Wednesday made concessions to COVID’s unpopular isolationist policy, which separated children from their parents and caused public outcry, but expanded the citywide regime, leaving some residents struggling to buy food.

The blockade of China’s most populous city, which began in some parts of Shanghai 10 days ago and has now detained nearly all of its 26 million residents, has severely disrupted daily life and business.

Public criticism of curbs, which are part of Beijing’s strategy to eliminate COVID, ranges from complaints of overcrowded and unsanitary quarantine centers to difficulties with buying food or accessing medical treatment.

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While the number of cases in Shanghai remains small by global standards, the city has become a testing ground for China’s “dynamic cleanup” strategy to combat COVID, which seeks to verify, track and centrally quarantine all positive cases and their close contacts.

Analysts say the impact of the restrictions on the economy is growing, especially for small businesses, according to Nomura estimates, nearly 200 million people across China are under some sort of blockade.

The most controversial of Shanghai’s practices was the separation of COVID-19-positive children from their parents, which came to the fore on Saturday and sparked widespread outrage across the country. read on

The Shanghai government responded two days ago by allowing parents who were also infected to accompany their children to the COVID isolation center. But complaints persisted of children separated from their parents who were not sick with COVID.

FURTHER CONCESSION

In a further concession on Wednesday, a Shanghai health official said caregivers of children with special needs who are infected with COVID can now apply to accompany them, but they will need to follow certain rules and sign a letter saying they are aware of the risk. read on

Upon request for more information, the Shanghai government said it had issued recommendations to the relevant medical facilities and that parents wishing to accompany their children could consult those facilities.

The comments brought widespread public relief, especially among parents, although some wondered why there was still a need to apply. The hashtag on this topic on the Chinese social networking platform Weibo has garnered more than 40 million views by Wednesday.

“It’s right to exercise management in a human way,” said one of Weibo’s comments, who really liked it.

Shanghai also said Wednesday it would hold another round of citywide tests, a mixture of antigen and nucleic acid testing. Restrictions on the movement of residents will continue until they can evaluate the test results, officials said.

There are signs that the curbs, which were originally planned to last about five days at most, are exhausting the nerves of residents. Many are starting to worry about food and drinking water as supermarkets remain closed and supplies are limited.

Some complained in social media posts that they had to wake up at dawn to be able to order food delivery, and they found that they were sold out in seconds. Others turned to WeChat community groups to try to buy fruits and vegetables en masse.

FIGHT TO BUY FOOD

Liu Ming, deputy chairman of the Shanghai Trade Commission, told reporters that the authorities are working to eliminate bottlenecks and take care of the basic needs of the population.

She said efforts would be made to deliver food and other necessities to Shanghai from other provinces, and to set up emergency stations in and around the city to ensure the supply of vegetables. But she said the biggest problem was home delivery.

Long waits for access to health care, even after positive tests on COVID, have also raised concerns. On Tuesday, Reuters witnessed an elderly woman waiting for two hours on the streets of Shanghai while seeking help. She had a fever, she had a positive result on COVID. read on

April 5 in Shanghai revealed a record 16,766 new asymptomatic cases of coronavirus, accounting for almost 90% of the total in the country, and compared to 13,086 the day before. Symptomatic cases, which China considers separately, also rose to 311 from 268 the day before. read on

The city has created 62 temporary quarantine sites in hotels, stadiums and exhibition centers, and is transforming the National Exhibition and Exhibition Center with an area of ​​150,000 square meters into a facility that can accommodate 40,000 people.

Beijing has shown no signs of planning to abandon its approach to eliminating COVID. He sent troops and 38,000 medical workers from other provinces to Shanghai to help control.

On Wednesday, Mi Feng, a spokesman for the National Health Commission, told reporters that China would continue to pursue this policy without hesitation.

The chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention Wu Zunyov said at the same press conference that the epidemic situation will quickly improve if China strictly adheres to existing measures on COVID.

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Report by David Stanway, Brandy Guo and the Shanghai and Beijing Bureaus; Edited by Jerry Doyle and Edmund Claman

Our standards: the principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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