Sordid tale of infected 4-year-old highlights the human cost of China's zero-COVID-19 policy

·2-min read
Representative image
Representative image

Beijing [China], September 19 (ANI): A 4-year old in a white hazmat suit, carrying a backpack half the size of his body toddles down a hospital corridor and arrives at a CT scan room -- all by himself highlights the human cost of China's zero-COVID-19 policy.

"A 4-year-old boy has been infected (with COVID-19), unfortunately," a caption in the video reads. "No accompanying parents. Going to quarantine alone", reported CNN.

The scene, captured by a nurse at a quarantine hospital in the city of Putian, the epicentre of China's latest Delta variant outbreak, gripped millions of people when it went viral on Chinese social media this week.

The video serves as a poignant reminder of the human cost of China's prized zero-COVID policy, which has helped the country quell multiple resurgences of the virus, reported CNN.

The elimination playbook consists of placing entire neighbourhoods under lockdown, testing millions of residents in a matter of days, and swiftly isolating infected people and their close contacts in designated facilities.

This time, strict measures were applied to schoolchildren -- among whom the outbreak was first detected and spread quickly.

In Putian, 57 of its recently reported 129 cases are under the age of 12, according to the government. To prevent further transmission, infected children as young as kindergarten age are separated from their parents and put in hospital isolation.

In a news conference Thursday, the Putian government said China's epidemic control rules bar COVID patients from any company during isolation and treatment. But if a child and their parent are both infected, the hospital would try to arrange for them to stay in the same ward, an official said, reported CNN.

Zhu Xiaqing, the nurse who took the video at the quarantine hospital, told the local Fujian Health Daily newspaper her eyes were wet with tears when she saw an ambulance full of children arriving, all sealed up in hazmat suits, reported CNN.

They had arrived late because a child didn't want to leave home and was crying for two hours before being coaxed into the ambulance, she said.

Upon arrival, the children had CT scans by themselves. Some were so young they couldn't climb onto the scanning table and had to be picked up by a doctor, Zhu said.

"Seeing little children all alone by themselves, without parents by their sides, in a hospital (they are) unfamiliar and scared of -- at that moment my heart really ached," she added. (ANI)

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