Anger in China after 14-year-old girl dies in Covid quarantine facility

Asia Editor Debi Edward reports from China, where frustrations over the 'zero-Covid' policy are rising

There is a family in China grieving the unexplained death of their 14-year-old daughter.

The teenager was taken into centralised quarantine last week and four days later she died.

She developed a fever, and started vomiting and having seizures.

Those with her phoned various government helplines but nobody came. She was made to quarantine as a close contact.

She was healthy, up until that point.

In a statement, her father, who called himself Guo Lele, said: “My daughter started having a high fever at Wanji quarantine facility on 16th [Ocotber] - no one approached to help and give her medical treatment.

"Her condition got worse on 17th [October] and she was dying. Eventually she was taken to a hospital in Ruzhou city, where she died.

"Now my plea is [so] the central government and discipline committee can have a serious investigation into the improper implementation of anti-pandemic measures in Zhuzhou city.”

A woman, who said she was her aunt, posted a video on Chinese social media, detailing their desperate attempts to get help and saying they still didn’t know what caused her death.

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“Hello everyone. I am the aunt of a 16-year-old girl who was talked about on Tik Tok.

"She was seen convulsing, vomiting and having a high fever. She didn't get the treatment in time. She passed away last night.

"We kept making phone calls at 3am yesterday, we called the mayor's line and local CDC, but no one answered the phone.

"The hospital [has] now asked us to get her out of the emergency room of the hospital. All six family members of mine are in quarantine now.

"The girl was pretty healthy when she just started the quarantine. She was sent to quarantine because she was a close contact.

"She had stayed there for four days and died. My plea now is to let you watch the video and help me repost it, so I can seek help and justice. The only thing I want to know is what caused her death.”

The case has not been reported, nor likely will be reported, on Chinese state media, but at the time of writing it still hadn’t been censored on social media. And the footage had been seen by almost two million people.

Most of the comments were expressing outrage.

One said: “Quarantine is meant to save people instead of trampling on life.”

Another said ‘’what a pathetic country” and someone questioning who will be held accountable asked “who will be next?".

ITV News tried to reach out to the family but they didn’t want to talk.

In recent months Covid restrictions have claimed more lives that the virus itself. Last month 27 people were killed in a bus crash on their way to an isolation facility in the middle of the night.

Xi Jinping has included zero-Covid among his political objectives. Credit: AP

Nobody on board was infected.

The draconian measures of China's 'zero-Covid' policy have elicited rare protests in the streets and online.

They have also prompted ridicule. Footage of fish, chickens, phones and other objects being subjected to Covid swabs have been widely mocked on Chinese social media.

But the president is unwavering and is clearly unmoved by the tragic deaths which have been reported, or the discontent which has increased in volume.

At this weeks 20th Party Congress, Xi Jinping included zero-Covid among his political objectives.

On Thursday, another round of lockdowns began in Beijing.

At 5.30am residents of a housing compound received a message telling them they couldn’t leave.

A positive case had visited there in recent days, so now everyone must quarantine for three days.

Food was hastily distributed, and tables set up for mass testing.

It is excessive, considered by most as unscientific and hugely disruptive. But this is the well-rehearsed response to an outbreak. Or even just a single case, or close contact.

At first, China appeared to have a winning formula to tackle the pandemic, but as we approach a third winter of lockdowns and mass testing, it is starting to look like the government's zero-Covid policy is causing more harm than good.