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Officials fired after disabled Chinese boy died when relatives put in coronavirus quarantine

HONG KONG — Two Communist Party officials in central Hubei province were sacked after the death of a disabled teenager who was left without adequate care for six days while his relatives were in coronavirus quarantine, a local government report said on Saturday (Feb 1).

Yan Cheng (pictured), his father and brother were in Huajiahe for Chinese New Year.

Yan Cheng (pictured), his father and brother were in Huajiahe for Chinese New Year.

HONG KONG — Two Communist Party officials in central Hubei province were sacked after the death of a disabled teenager who was left without adequate care for six days while his relatives were in coronavirus quarantine, a local government report said on Saturday (Feb 1).

The teenager, Yan Cheng, had cerebral palsy and died on Jan 29 while in the care of officials in Huajiahe township, Hongan county, more than 100km from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

The county investigation — which put the boy’s age at 16 — found that Yan Cheng’s father had entrusted his son’s care to village cadres and doctors, and although they looked after him daily, they “did not try their hardest to fulfil their duty of care and responsibilities”, according to the report.

Huajiahe party secretary Wang Baoquan and mayor Peng Zhihong were fired. Others found to be responsible for Yan Cheng’s death could expect to be disciplined, the report said. It also said that the cause of his death was yet to be determined.

Yan Cheng’s father and autistic 11-year-old younger brother were put in isolation on Jan 24 after reporting signs of fever, leaving the teenager without care, food or company.

The father, Mr Yan Xiaowen, was confirmed as a coronavirus case on Jan 29 and sent to the county hospital for treatment, hours before Yan Cheng died.

It was not clear what happened to Mr Yan’s other son.

Worried that Yan Cheng was not getting proper care, his father appealed for help on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like network, on January 28.

“I have two disabled sons. My older son Yan Cheng has cerebral palsy. He cannot move his body, he cannot speak or look after himself. He has already been at home by himself for six days, with nobody to bathe him or change his clothes and nothing to eat or drink,” Mr Yan wrote in a message that was later deleted.

The family had travelled from Wuhan to their ancestral village on January 17 to celebrate Lunar New Year. Mr Yan reported feeling unwell about three days later.

On January 29, Damihexiaomi, a WeChat resource for families of children with autism and other conditions, reported that an aunt had fed Yan Cheng three times and changed him twice in the six-day period, but ill health prevented her from doing more. She last saw her nephew on the day before he died, Damihexiaomi said.

Most of the central Chinese province has been under virtual lockdown since the number of cases of a coronavirus originating in Wuhan rose rapidly at the end of January.

News of the boy’s death and the sackings led to an outcry on social media.

“Someone’s child died. Why should you only be removed from your job?” read a comment on Weibo that drew more than 7,000 “likes”.

“Village cadres, you know how many meals you yourselves need to eat in a day. How did you forget how many daily meals to give to another?” another user wrote.

“People with special needs and underprivileged families are an important target of care for community social organisations,” Ministry of Civil Affairs official Chen Yueliang was quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV on Friday.

“Since the outbreak, many communities have mobilised party members and property wardens to visit communities, workplaces and businesses to strengthen their long-term care and assistance for special needs groups and underprivileged families.” SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

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Wuhan virus coronavirus novel coronavirus

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