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Montevideo, December 4th 2022 - 09:22 UTC



Foreign diplomatic missions decry harsh covid-19 isolation measures in Shanghai

Tuesday, April 5th 2022 - 09:10 UTC
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Shanghai is China’s financial capital and is also a major manufacturing hub for cars and electronics Shanghai is China’s financial capital and is also a major manufacturing hub for cars and electronics

As a part of its zero-tolerance for covid-19 cases, the Government of China has been separating children from their parents to handle the recent outbreak in Shanghai.

According to press reports, western diplomats have voiced their concern over the extreme measure, as confinement continues to yield no results in curbing the spread of the coronavirus. More than 30 countries have written to China's Foreign Ministry urging authorities not to take steps of such a drastic nature.

“We request that under no circumstances should parents and children be separated,” said a letter dated March 31 written by the French consulate in Shanghai that was addressed to the Shanghai foreign, it was reported.

Meanwhile, the British embassy in Beijing said it was concerned about “recent cases where local authorities have tried to separate minors who tested positive for COVID-19 from their parents” and sought assurances that this would not happen to diplomatic staff.

The French consulate and the British embassy said they were writing the letters on behalf of other countries, including European Union states and others such as Norway, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand after learning of the difficulties caused by the Shanghai closure, which the city carried out in two stages starting March 28.

Asymptomatic cases are sent to centralized quarantine centers, some of which have been described as unsanitary and overcrowded.

The British embassy also said there were concerns about conditions and lack of privacy in the newly-deployed mobile hospital facilities, adding that isolating themselves in diplomatic housing was a “preferable solution and consistent with our Vienna Convention privileges.”

“The British Consulate General in Shanghai has been raising concerns about various aspects of the current COVID policies in relation to all British nationals in China with the relevant Chinese authorities,” a consulate spokesperson said.

Shanghai official Wu Qianyu told a news conference Monday that children could be accompanied by their parents if they too were infected, but separated if they were not, adding that policies were still being refined.

China has sent some 10,000 health-care personnel, including 2,000 from the army and navy, to Shanghai to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak that has locked down significant portions of the city for two weeks.

China’s Zero-COVID policy has been a source of pride for the nation, as countries around the world have failed to contain the virus as well as China. But if the lockdown is not lifted soon, Shanghai could lose up to 3.7% of its expected GDP, according to an economist quoted by the BBC.

The Chinese healthcare responders have so far detected around 13,000 COVID-19 infections, of which 12,000 were either asymptomatic or showed just mild symptoms. The cases reportedly belong to the highly contagious Omicron BA.2 variant. Authorities are testing as many of the 26 million residents of Shanghai as possible.

To make up for the economic losses, Shanghai workers are sleeping and living in factories and offices. But analysts have warned the strategy cannot stay on forever, since supplies will need to be replenished, requiring that the bubble be penetrated.

Shanghai is China’s financial capital and is also a major manufacturing hub for cars and electronics, in addition to being the world’s busiest shipping port. If China is unable to get the virus under control, it could have a big impact economically. Already, authorities had to delay the re-opening of eastern Shanghai, which was planned for last Friday.

General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG factories remain open for now using the closed-loop system, while most shops and local businesses have shut down. Warehouses are also being filled with vegetables, and an online grocery store says it is doubling its staff in one warehouse to deal with increased demand due to the lockdown.

To date, China has reported 259,389 COVID-19 cases and 4,638 deaths.

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