The US state department on Monday ordered non-emergency US government workers to leave the consulate in Shanghai due to a surge in Covid cases and China’s measures to control the virus.
On Friday, the state department announced that non-emergency personnel could voluntarily leave the consulate. It is not clear why the departure of those workers has become mandatory.
“Our change in posture reflects our assessment that it is best for our employees and their families to be reduced in number and our operations to be scaled down as we deal with the changing circumstances on the ground,” the department said on Monday.
China responded angrily to the earlier voluntary departure order.
The most controversial of Shanghai’s practices had been separating Covid-positive children from their parents. Authorities have since made some concessions.
The state department cited the risk of parents and children being separated in Monday’s announcement.
Shanghai is fighting China’s worst Covid-19 outbreak since the virus first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019.
The US order comes as Chinese authorities started easing lockdown in some parts of Shanghai on Monday, despite reporting a record of more than 25,000 new Covid cases.
The country’s most populous city said it will allow what city official Gu Honghui said was “appropriate activity” in some neighbourhoods where there have been no positive cases for at least two weeks.
Residents of these neighbourhoods are not allowed to travel to those still under severe lockdowns.
Each district will announce the specific names of the first batch (of communities),” Gu told a news briefing. It is unclear how many residents stand to have lockdowns immediately eased.
On Tuesday, Shanghai reported 22,348 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases and 994 symptomatic cases for 11th April, the local government said. Asymptomatic cases were down from 25,173 a day earlier. The symptomatic cases rose from 914.