Downplaying the Risks
But local officials downplayed the risks, going ahead with mass celebrations for the Lunar New Year holiday and letting millions to leave the city, allowing the virus to spread nationwide and around the world.
Soon after his surgery, Zhang’s father developed a fever and loss of appetite.
“He withered,” said Zhang.
He was transferred to a quarantine ward, dying hours later. Official cause of death: COVID-19, the pneumonia-like illness caused by coronavirus.
“I feel extreme regret and extreme remorse. Sending him here (Wuhan) meant sending him to his death,” said Zhang, who believes his father contracted the virus in hospital.
By then, authorities had shut down the city of 11 million and tens of millions more people throughout Hubei province, isolating it from the rest of China.
Residents were homebound until last week, when authorities said it was safe to begin relaxing the lockdown.
The central government says its aggressive measures helped slow the virus, but there is bitterness in Wuhan, where most of China’s deaths occurred.
“How many families have been shattered because of a plague that could have been stopped?” one Wuhan woman, who says the virus took her husband, wrote on leading Chinese social media platform Weibo.
“How many unlucky common people lost their lives? No warning, no way to say good bye. Someone who was fine, suddenly gone!” she wrote, referring to local authorities as “criminals.”