3-year-old’s father blames China’s zero-Covid policy for son’s death | China

The father of a three-year-old boy who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in northwest China said tough Covid-19 policies had “indirectly killed” his son by causing delays in treatment.

The boy’s death on Tuesday sparked outrage on social media and is the latest incident to spark a backlash against China’s strict zero-Covid policy.

“Personally, I think he was killed indirectly,” the boy’s father, Tuo Shilei, told Portal by phone from the city of Lanzhou, which has been under lockdown for several weeks.

Tuo noted that his son Wenxuan was not feeling well after his wife slipped and fell after being injured by gas fumes while cooking on Tuesday. Tuo said he desperately tried to call an ambulance or the police but couldn’t get through.

After about 30 minutes, Wenxuan’s condition worsened, and Tuo said he performed CPR, which helped temporarily. He and his son rushed to the entrance to their church compound, which was under strict lockdown. The gate staff would not let him pass and told him to call local authorities or an ambulance.

Desperate and unwilling to wait any longer for an ambulance, Tuo tumbled through the barriers with his son, and locals called a taxi to take them to a hospital, where doctors’ efforts to save Wenxuan were unsuccessful.

“There was the Covid situation at the checkpoint. The staff didn’t act and then ignored and avoided the problem, and then we were blocked by another checkpoint,” Tuo said.

“No help was given. This series of events caused the death of my child.”

The Lanzhou government and health ministry, as well as the Gansu provincial government, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

During last month’s Communist Party congress, President Xi Jinping reiterated China’s commitment to the zero-Covid policy, which has made it a global outlier and led to disruptive lockdowns in cities across the country.

Wenxuan’s story began trending on social media after a video of him receiving CPR in the back of a truck was shared, along with a comment suggesting he had died due to delays in treatment .

A hashtag, “Three years of Covid was his whole life,” became a trending topic before it was deleted, a common occurrence on China’s heavily censored internet.

“The child’s memory, unfortunately, will be of masks and nothing else,” wrote one Weibo user.

“Is there still trust in the authorities?” wrote another user.

A spate of cases of people dying because they were unable to get medical care due to Covid restrictions has sparked viral outrage this year, including many during Shanghai’s two-month lockdown.

Tuo said he was later contacted by a person who said they were a retired local official and offered to send him 100,000 yuan (US$13,000) if he signed a pledge not to go public or to seek redress for the incident.

Tuo said he declined the offer and instead demanded an explanation for his son’s death.

A funeral was held for Wenxuan on Wednesday morning in Hezheng, the family’s nearby hometown. Tuo did not attend for fear of being quarantined upon arrival.