The United States State Department on Monday ordered all non-emergency government employees to leave Shanghai as COVID-19 infection rates have surged in the Chinese city. The travel advisory was also revised for American citizens who wish to travel to China.
The increase in COVID-19 cases was just one of the reasons included by the State Department in the press release on Monday. The federal body warned against “arbitrary enforcement of local laws and COVID-19-related restrictions” in China.
A separate section of the press release focused on warnings for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), Jilin province, and Shanghai. It cautioned against the “risk of parents and children being separated.”
Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, criticised a similar order released earlier this month. Zhao said that China is “strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to the US side’s groundless accusation against China’s epidemic response.”
“It should be pointed out that China’s anti-epidemic policies are science-based and effective, and we are fully confident that Shanghai and other places in China will prevail over the new wave of the epidemic”, Zhao said, according to Associated Press.
Shanghai authorities have reported no deaths from this outbreak, but questions have been raised about the reliability of the data. A city health official said that the criteria for confirming cases and deaths are very strict and not susceptible to political meddling.
The United States guidelines for asymptomatic cases, as in the United Kingdom, are that individuals isolate at home for five days. In Shanghai, workers are rushing to set up massive temporary facilities in exhibition halls and elsewhere to try to house everyone who tests positive.
A low vaccination rate among the elderly, though, remains a concern. Only 62% of Shanghai residents over 60 have been vaccinated, according to the latest data available.