Virus: Hong Kong justifies confining children to family isolation

On Wednesday, Hong Kong authorities assumed, in some cases, that babies and children were restricted in their beds, as criticism mounted against the psychological consequences of the city’s draconian measures against the coronavirus.

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Although it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, the former British colony has generally succeeded in controlling the epidemic.

The total number of infections reaches 11,000 cases and 200 deaths related to the Coronavirus in one year. But this result was obtained at the expense of some of the most restrictive measures in the world.

Anyone who has tested positive for the virus is hospitalized immediately in isolation, whether or not showing symptoms, and those considered to be “in close contact” are sent for two weeks to quarantine camps run by the government.

Finally, most people entering the territory must observe quarantine for a period of three weeks in designated hotels, at their expense.

If, in the context of continued Chinese political repression, these measures do not yet lead to any major challenges, discontent has begun to mount in recent weeks due to the overstretched part of the country. Residents face restrictions that appear to be permanent.

Consulates concern

Anger is mounting on social media over the practice of separating children from their fathers in apartheid units, with some reporting that mothers are no longer allowed to breastfeed, and young children are tied to their beds to keep them in place.

This week, the Hong Kong government has repeatedly released statements to justify its policy, including the child restriction policy.

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Hospital authorities announced in a press release on Wednesday evening: “In general, the hospital will only consider applying physical restraint on pediatric patients for the sake of the patients’ safety and welfare.”

She added, “The informed consent of parents or guardians is required.”

She said that parents who test positive for the virus are generally allowed to accompany their infected children to isolation units if there is a place.

But this is not always the case. There are examples of parents who have been placed in solitary confinement in a different location from their children, and attempt to calm them down over the hospital’s internal phone line.

In recent days, the consulates of Switzerland, Great Britain, the United States and France in particular have expressed their concern to the Hong Kong authorities about the psychological consequences of the strict measures in place.

“Tyranny of the urgent”

This is not the first time that Hong Kong’s family policy, in the context of a pandemic, has been subject to debate.

Last year, a group of prospective fathers launched a campaign to allow a spouse to attend and win the birth.

While fighting the Corona virus, the authorities decided to prevent the husband from being in the pre-work room, during childbirth or in the nursing units of the general hospital.

Nevertheless, the World Health Organization recommends that the partner be on a “safe birth checklist” and confirms that affected women can continue to breastfeed.

While the authorities have surrendered to the issue of a husband’s presence, they continue to discourage mothers from breastfeeding if they are in solitary confinement.

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“This is called urgent tyranny: there is pressure to act quickly and aggressively in the context of public health events so that other criteria are set aside,” Karen Griban, a health policy expert at the University of Hong Kong, told AFP. HKU).

“The response to the pandemic is more than just a marathon, and we have to find a way, along with the logic that’s critically important to public health, to take into account the economic, social and gender implications,” A said.

The authorities have particularly justified the stay in quarantine camps by the small size of apartments in Hong Kong, which threatens to further spread the virus.


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