Death of teenager in Covid quarantine centre sparks outcry in China

Reports that a 16-year-old girl has died at a Covid quarantine centre after pleas from her family for medical help were ignored have caused anger in China, where ongoing tight pandemic controls have started to take their toll on a weary population, a media report said.

Videos of the girl have spread across Chinese social media in the last 24 hours, The Guardian reported.

The distressing footage, which The Guardian has not been able to independently verify, shows the teenager ill, struggling to breathe and convulsing in a bunk bed at what is purported to be a quarantine centre at Ruzhou in Henan province.

In the video, a woman who claims to be the girl’s aunt says her niece died after exhibiting fever, experiencing convulsions and vomiting. She said the family had been asking for medical help, but none came for days and calls to official phone lines went unanswered.

“We have been calling for help since 3 am last night, including the mayor’s hotline and the centre for disease control and prevention, but we couldn’t get through,” she said.

“I just want all my family and friends to see this video and spread it, so I can find a place for help, and seek justice. I just want to know what is the reason behind her death.”

The video comes as Communist leaders are meeting in Beijing for their party Congress – the most important meeting of China’s five-year political cycle.

Authorities have been under pressure to ensure that there are no signs of unrest during the meeting but frustration has broken through, The Guardian reported.

Last week, in a rare protest in Beijing, incendiary slogans against Xi Jinping, including references to anger at strict Covid policies, were hung from a central overpass. The same slogans have begun to appear in other locations.

In Henan, which has a population of nearly 100 million people, 26 Covid cases were reported on Tuesday and 13 on Monday. But China’s zero-Covid policy requires authorities to contain and eliminate all outbreaks. It has resulted in sudden lockdowns on buildings, neighbourhoods and cities, and mass quarantining of cases and people considered “close contacts”, The Guardian reported.

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