China, Once Praised by Media for COVID Response, Tears Sick Children From Parents

A child in a Chinese quarantine facility / Getty Images
April 4, 2022

Health officials in Shanghai are separating COVID-positive babies and young children from their families as part of the Chinese government's brutal zero-COVID policy, the Daily Mail reported Monday.

More than two years since the end of the pandemic's first wave, China is still going to extreme lengths to achieve zero COVID-19 cases. Under Chinese policy, "anyone found positive—even if they are asymptomatic or have a mild infection—must be isolated from non-infected people," the Daily Mail wrote.

Multiple public health experts and left-leaning media sources have praised China's zero-COVID policy since the beginning of the pandemic.

"How uncomfortable is it," MSNBC's Chuck Todd asked National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci in 2020, "that perhaps China's authoritarian ways did prevent this? Meaning, had China been a free and open society, this might have spread faster?"

While Fauci said China's efforts "have been draconian," he argued that they "prevented a broader spread."

Fauci at the same time promoted a zero-COVID policy similar to what China is promoting now.

The United States can "relax social distancing" when it has "essentially no new cases," Fauci said in April 2020.

A New York Times op-ed in March 2020 went further, arguing that some of China's COVID-19 policies "were motivated by serious concern for the public good."

While multiple media sources reported last month that China was seeking to end or soften its zero-COVID policy, the government totally committed to the policy in response to a COVID outbreak in Shanghai.

In one case, Shanghai resident Esther Zhao brought her two-year-old daughter to the hospital with a fever.

"Three days later," Reuters reported, "Zhao was begging health authorities not to separate them after she and the little girl both tested positive for COVID-19, saying her daughter was too young to be taken away to a quarantine center for children."

In response, doctors threatened Zhao, saying that unless she sent her daughter to the quarantine center, the girl would be left alone at the hospital.

Zhao told Reuters that she has received no information on her daughter, except for a single text message, since authorities took the two-year-old away.

Chinese citizens have taken to social media, including the state-censored platform Weibo, to express their outrage at the policy.

"This is horrific," one person said in response to a picture that shows "wailing babies kept three to a cot" in a quarantine facility.

"How could the government come up with such a plan?" another asked.