Shanghai separated COVID-positive children from their parents, citing outbreak prevention requirements, which sparked widespread public outcry. More than 30 countries have written to the Chinese Foreign Ministry urging the authorities not to take that step.
“We ask that under no circumstances parents and children are separated”, states a letter written by the French consulate in Shanghai and addressed to the Shanghai foreign affairs office on March 31.
In a separate letter to the Chinese Foreign Ministry dated the same day, the British Embassy in Beijing said it was concerned about “Recent cases in which local authorities have tried to separate minors who tested positive for COVID-19 from their parents” is required ensures that this does 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 performed in two phases starting on 28 March.
Asymptomatic or mild cases should be referred to “A specialized isolation environment with staff able to communicate in English”states the letter from the French consulate, a copy of which Reuters has seen and verified with two sources.
Currently, asymptomatic cases sent to centralized quarantine centers, some of which have been described as unsanitary and overcrowded.
The British Embassy said there were concerns about the conditions and lack of privacy in the newly deployed mobile hospital facilities, adding that isolation in diplomatic quarters was a “preferable solution and consistent with our privileges of the Vienna Convention”, in the letter seen by Reuters and verified by two sources.
“The British Consulate General in Shanghai has raised its concerns about various aspects of current COVID policies in relationship with all British citizens in China, with the competent Chinese authorities “, a spokesman for the consulate said.
The French consulate declined to comment on the letter. The Australian Consulate General in Shanghai, quoted in the letters, also declined to comment, but said it had cooperated with local authorities on COVID-19 restrictions.
The United States did not appear as a signatory to either letter. However, the US Consul General in the city, Jim Heller, told members of a private chat group for US citizens that the The consulate had highlighted many of the concerns raised in the European letter with the local government.
A U.S. embassy spokesperson declined to comment on Heller’s comments, but said the way embassy staff were treated during the COVID pandemic was “the perfect job” and that the embassy was engaging in COVID-related policy with the Chinese government.
Other countries, including Norway, Switzerland and New Zealand, mentioned in the letters, did not respond to requests for comment. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also did not respond to a request for comment.
Wu Qianyu, a Shanghai official, said this at a press conference on Monday The children could be accompanied by their parents if the parents were also infected, but separated if they weren’t, adding that the policies are still being refined.
China has sent the military and thousands of health workers to Shanghai to help conduct COVID-19 tests for all of its 26 million residents as cases continued to rise during the city lockdown on Monday. in one of the largest public health responses in the country’s history.