An unfortunate tragedy has befallen a family in rural central China
A 17-year-old boy, who could not move independently because of his cerebral palsy, was found dead after he was left on his own for six days while his father and brother were taken away to be quarantined on suspicion of having the Wuhan coronavirus, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Thursday, 30 January.
The coronavirus, which has been named the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCov), has already infected more people in China than the 2002-03 outbreak of SARS, another type of coronavirus.
The state-run newspaper's report, which was picked up by Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP), stated that government officials from Hong'an County, about 100km north of the provincial capital, Wuhan, where the outbreak first started, have launched an investigation into the death of the boy.
Officials in China released the below photograph, which shows medical workers in hazmat suits carrying the body of the boy into an ambulance after he was found dead at home on Wednesday, 29 January.
The cause of the boy's death has not yet been revealed
According to the report, the boy, named Yan Cheng, his 49-year-old father, Yan Xiaowen, and his 11-year-old autistic brother travelled from Wuhan to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Huahe township.
However, three days later, the father developed a fever. He and Cheng's younger brother were then quarantined at a treatment facility on Friday, 24 January, leaving the boy alone at home.
With no one to care for the boy, the father was worried that the local officials entrusted with the boy's welfare may be neglecting him. So he appealed for help on Weibo.
"I have two disabled sons. My older son Yan Cheng has cerebral palsy," the father wrote in a post that has since been taken down. The post included several photos of him and his son, Cheng.
"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.
"The government and hospitals don't have any protective clothing to spare. I fear that my child will soon die. Please, everybody, help send some protective suits to Yanjia village in Huahe township, Hongan county, Hubei province!" Xiaowen appealed to the users on the platform.
A Huahe township employee, who confirmed Cheng's death, said that Hong'an county had set up an inquiry into the boy's death
"Now, the oversight [monitoring] of cadres is very strict, there is no way we could have left a boy with cerebral palsy at home with nobody looking after him," the employee was quoted as saying.
SCMP reported that officials were planning to send the father and his younger son to a hotel for quarantine so that the boy could be cared for in the same place as his father, but he died on Wednesday afternoon.
As of today, 2 February, there are 14,551 confirmed cases of infected victims globally. Of which, 14,380 are in China with 305 killed so far.
A study has revealed that the majority of the victims were men: