A Chinese man whose father died of coronavirus on February 1 after being admitted to a Wuhan hospital for an unrelated issue told Al Jazeera this week he blames the Wuhan government for the death.
He cited the government’s “lies and cover-ups” related to Wuhan’s initial coronavirus outbreak, which emerged in the city late last year, as the reason for his father’s death.
Zhang Hai’s 76-year-old father Zhang Lifa was admitted to a Wuhan hospital on January 17 for treatment after falling down and breaking his leg. Zhang’s father had surgery to repair his leg on January 20.
“The surgery had been very successful, and he was in good condition,” Zhang Hai said in an interview with Al Jazeera on Tuesday. “But soon, he began to have fevers frequently and before long his condition worsened and he went into a coma.”
Zhang Hai said he never would have brought his father to a hospital in Wuhan if he knew there was a contagious disease outbreak occurring. The Zhangs traveled from Shenzhen, nearly 700 miles away in southeastern China, where the two had lived together prior to the accident.
“I didn’t know anything about it [then],” he said of the coronavirus. “If the Wuhan government had been transparent, then perhaps all of this wouldn’t have happened, and thousands of lives would have been saved.”
Zhang’s father had served in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), according to the interview. As a soldier, Zhang Lifa worked on nuclear bomb development and testing in the 1960s that exposed him to radiation, leaving him in poor health. His service and health conditions allowed him to claim disabled veteran benefits and free medical treatment in Wuhan, where he had resided for decades.
“At the time I quit my job to better look after my father so the financial burden as a result of his treatment was pretty heavy,” Zhang Hai said. “So, I decided to take him back to Wuhan where he could enjoy free treatment as a local resident. We didn’t know about the outbreak [then].”
“It was inside the hospital that my father was infected, I’m sure,” Zhang Hai said. “The surgery went very well, and he would have been fine. So, I blame this on the Wuhan government. It’s because of their initial cover-ups, lack of transparency, and lies that led to the tragedy.”
“I’m only speaking for myself and hope that the Wuhan officials who had a part in telling lies to the public get what they deserve,” he added.
As Al Jazeera reported, on December 31, 2019, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission first officially notified the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) about a cluster of unusual pneumonia-like cases in Wuhan. The W.H.O. waited until January 14 before admitting that human-to-human transmission of coronavirus was possible.
On January 15, the Wuhan Health Commission released a statement saying it did not have clear evidence of human-to-human transmission. The statement said that, although the possibility of human-to-human transmission could not be ruled out, the risk of this type of transmission was still low, according to Al Jazeera’s report.
On April 16, Wuhan government officials announced a 50 percent increase in the city’s death rate after revising its officially reported figures, raising the city’s death toll to 3,869. Prior to the revision, Wuhan’s official death count was 2,579. The discrepancy was due to “belated, missed, and mistaken reporting,” according to an anonymous Wuhan epidemic official quoted by Chinese state media at the time.
At press time on Friday, China had reported 4,637 total deaths from the Wuhan coronavirus. Last month, Radio Free Asia estimated China’s true number of deaths to be at least 46,800, ten times higher than the official number.
As of Friday, China claims to have a total of 83,958 coronavirus cases. However, as with China’s number of coronavirus deaths, most health authorities around the world doubt this official number. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) published a report on April 7 arguing that China’s true number of coronavirus cases is likely at least 2.9 million, over one hundred times the total 81,907 cases claimed by China at the time.