WASHINGTON, Apr 9 — The United States today authorised the “voluntary departure” of non-essential personnel from its consulate in Shanghai and recommended that Americans not travel to China due to tough Covid restrictions there.

The families of all US personnel are also allowed to leave, the State Department said in a statement.

The agency warned US citizens against traveling to Shanghai, China’s economic capital and largest city, “due to Covid-19 related restrictions, including the risk of parents and children being separated.”

China has been battling its worst wave of infections since the start of the pandemic and Shanghai has been under total or partial lockdown for two weeks, with some 25 million people ordered to stay at home.

China, where the coronavirus was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, is among the last remaining places in the world to enforce a zero-Covid approach to the pandemic.

In Shanghai, the government implemented a highly controversial policy of separating coronavirus-positive children from parents who tested negative, but then had to relax it following criticism. — AFP