Shanghai is allowing at least some parents to stay with children infected with Covid-19, making an exception to a policy of isolating anyone who tests positive after a public outcry.
The announcement came as China’s largest city remained in lockdown and conducted more mass testing on Wednesday following another jump in new cases.
A top city health official said at a news conference that parents could apply to stay with children with “special needs” and accompany them if they fully comprehend the health risks and sign an agreement.
The parents must wear masks, dine at a different time than their children, avoid sharing items with them and strictly follow all regulations, said Wu Qianyu of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission. She did not define what qualified as “special needs.”
Her announcement followed Chinese state media reports a day earlier that an isolation site set up at the Shanghai New International Expo Center was accepting children with parents. The city has opened sprawling isolation centres for tens of thousands of people to isolate the growing number of positive cases.
Reports that parents were being separated from their infected children had sparked a wave of protest online last weekend, fuelled by photos showing several children in cots at a quarantine site with no parents in sight.
Footage of a pet corgi being beaten to death on the streets of Shanghai over fears it may have the virus has also sparked outrage and frustration with China’s zero-Covid policy.
“There is no humanity, and while the whole world is living a normal and orderly life, there are still ‘volunteers’ who have lost their humanity. Happening in China in 2022. Very sad,” one person wrote on Weibo.
Last November, the death of another corgi – killed in its apartment while its owner was serving mandatory hotel quarantine in Jiangxi province – sparked a similar outcry.
Shanghai reported 17,077 new cases detected over the previous day, all but 311 of them in people who showed no symptoms. Under China’s zero-Covid approach, the city requires all those who test positive to be held in designated locations for observation, along with their close contacts.