Shanghai’s most disputed practice of separating COVID-positive children from their parents came to light earlier this week and sparked anger around the country.
A Covid-19 isolation center at Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center in Jinshan district isolates infants and young children under seven years old without allowing their parents to take care of them.
Under public pressure, the center agreed to allow some parents who tested negative to take care of their young children. Parents must wear masks, eat separately, refrain from exchanging personal goods, and “strictly adhere” to all parts of the center’s rules.
However, most young children here are still not allowed to be cared for, fueling grievances that call for concern from the outside.
Infected parents try to be isolated with their children for convenient care
Chinese language media Da Ji Yuan reported the ordeals of a Shanghai family, when Mr. Wang and his young child tested positive. The child was sent to a quarantined site at the Jinshan center last month. The center’s staff said they would send camera clips and pics to the parents daily to assure the kid was okay, but they did not keep their word.
According to the health center, they did not let him enter because they did not have spare beds. Mr. Wang said that he has been applying to see his child for a week. He went every day to ask, and they finally agreed to let him enter to care for his child through a complicated process.
When the Wang family arrived, they found many empty beds, contrary to what he was told before.
According to Mr. Wang, about 500 children were kept in isolation. More than half are without their parents; he hopes the news can break internationally to help end the dire situation there.
On April 9, a reporter called to interview the Jinshan child isolation center and asked what procedures parents need to see their children. The center’s staff answered the phone and said to go and ask the city’s disease control center (CDC).
The reporter then tried to contact the city CDC but received no definite answer. Reporters tried to contact other parents, and some were sent to quarantine hotels; others were afraid to answer.
According to the situation Mr. Wang described, the lucky parents who were allowed to stay with their children couldn’t bear to see other children alone.
China News reported the opening of the Shanghai New International Expo Center Fangcang shelter hospital on April 12, where children are allowed to stay with their parents.
However, Mr. Wang revealed that the site was in very poor condition; there was not enought medical staff, and beds were sticking together in narrow spaces.
Mr. Wang only saw about ten medical staff taking turns; those could not do much. Many young children sat on the ground, were crawling around, without clothes, in dirty water, walking back and forth, falling; the hygiene in the bathroom is terrible for children too.
According to Mr. Wang, these isolation site conditions are not suitable for eating or even sleep, are destructive for health recovery, and are far inferior to self-isolation at home.
Isolation conditions are too poor; officials want to cover up the truth
According to Insider, videos and images of children in isolation under terrible conditions were circulating on Chinese social media Weibo and went viral on Twitter. The original post was eliminated, but re-posts are still available.
Sina Weibo and other Chinese online communities have deleted many posts related to infant and child isolation pages in the past week. Many parental support requests have been deleted and censored.
On April 8, a parent posted on Weibo that nearly 1,000 people live together in the newborn isolation site of Jinshan Public Health Center, raising questions about the risk of cross-infection.
The post said the children at home did not have any symptoms. Still, they suddenly had a runny nose when they arrived there. Their voices changed, questioning whether this type of isolation and crowded quarantine place is a scientific measure.