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Woman sues Beijing after dad dies of Covid-19

Authorities have warned Zhao Lei and her family to drop the case.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
The Covid-19 pandemic, widely believed to have started in Wuhan, China, has since spread throughout the world. Photo: Pexels
The Covid-19 pandemic, widely believed to have started in Wuhan, China, has since spread throughout the world. Photo: Pexels

The Chinese city of Wuhan is now infamous around the world as the place most people believe Covid-19 began.

Back at the beginning of 2020, people there began dying of a mystery illness with no name. It turned out to be the start of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

It was said that the virus first appeared in a wet market and jumped from exotic species destined for the dinner table to humans. Or it was developed in a Wuhan lab and somehow escaped.

Thousands of deaths later, Wuhan is back to normal. Sky News describes people crowding the streets, filling restaurants and bars, and swimming in the Yangtze River for exercise.

But for those who lost loved one to the virus, nothing can ever be normal again.

Zhao Lei’s father contracted the disease at the end of January.

The emergency services were already overwhelmed by then, and there was no ambulance to take him to the hospital. His family tried to walk him through the freezing cold until finally they were picked up by a tuk tuk.

He died of respiratory failure in the emergency waiting room. She is still angry at the government, whom she blames for his death.

“I think the government covered up the fact that the virus could spread from people to people. I hold the government accountable and ask them to pay the due price.”

In what most would regard as a foolhardy course of action, she is suing the Chinese government.

In China that just doesn’t happen.

Hers is a courageous fight against a system that does not tolerate dissent.

China has always insisted it has acted openly and transparently in its handling of Covid-19.

And yet the police have already visited her mother, warning that Zhao Lei should drop the case and not talk publicly.

The authorities do not want anyone spoiling their narrative of China’s triumph over coronavirus.

The Communist Party of China and General Secretary Xi Jinping are the heroes of this story, and they don’t want a provincial 39-year-old woman turning them into the villains.

But she is determined.

“I won’t give up,” she says. “I hope to get justice for my father’s death.”

Exiled Chinese activists believe her case will get nowhere because the authorities deny they covered up the serious nature of the illness.

Zhao Lei herself contracted Covid-19 soon after her father and is still feeling its mental effects.

But this brave woman insists she is not fighting the courts for herself.

“I don’t want my father to have died for nothing.”