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China Separating Families, Locking Down Millions During Mild COVID Surge

(Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is resorting to extreme measures to suppress a mild COVID-19 outbreak in Shanghai, one of the world’s largest cities.

Thousands of health care workers have been shuttled into the city to conduct daily mass testing of its 26 million residents, according to Reuters. Children who test positive for the virus, even if asymptomatic, are being separated from their uninfected parents and forcibly taken to government isolation facilities, according to multiple reports.

After beginning a two-stage lockdown on March 28, CCP authorities initially said the lockdown would end Tuesday, after there had been time to test every resident of the city in two groups. However, the lockdown has been extended, and tests are continuing, with some residents being woken up by CCP workers and military members before sunrise to get swabbed.

Roughly 38,000 medical professionals and 2,000 members of the People’s Liberation Army have been sent to Shanghai from around the country to assist with the mass testing and lockdown effort, according to state media. Testing facilities are primarily using pool testing, according to Reuters, meaning as many as 10 to 20 samples are pooled together for a single test, and every individual included is treated as positive if the overall sample shows infection.

Individuals who refuse a COVID-19 test are liable for criminal punishment, authorities said. All of this is over just 268 daily symptomatic COVID-19 cases in the entire city of 26 million, according to Reuters. Asymptomatic positive tests surged to 13,000 Monday. Not one death has been reported as part of the current outbreak, which began in March. (RELATED: Man Investigated After Allegedly Getting 90 COVID-19 Vaccine Shots To Sell Vaccination Cards In Germany)

There has been some public outcry about the policy of separating children from their parents to quarantine, as well as the isolation of asymptomatic individuals with those who are actually sick. A petition to allow children without symptoms to isolate at home with their parents was taken down off of social media platform WeChat this week, according to Reuters. Diplomatic sources reportedly told CNN that some children of American citizens have been taken from their parents.

In total, there are 23 Chinese cities under full or partial lockdown, with a combined population of nearly 200 million people. (RELATED: ‘Carnage’ Hits Chinese Markets Amid New COVID Surge)

Wu Qianyu, a municipal health official, said during a briefing the city must adhere to the zero-COVID policy “without wavering.” They did not comment on the child separation policy. The lockdown could potentially last for months, similar to the initial lockdown of Wuhan at the start of the pandemic.

Other individuals in Shanghai have reported difficulties getting food, with no ability to leave and go to grocery stores and no delivery drivers available to bring goods to quarantined residents.

China isn’t the only country with strict pandemic policies which has experienced a recent surge in the virus. New Zealand, South Korea and Hong Kong have also seen unprecedented upticks in cases, but haven’t responded with the same draconian measures seen in Shanghai.