PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 December, 2006, 12:00am

He Yujiang's widow, Guo Xiuqin , is the lone occupant of a dank ward at the Cangzhou People's Hospital. She has been there since she saw her husband's body in the hospital mortuary late last month. Under sedation, she stares at the ceiling, surrounded by a dozen or so villagers.

'When she was conscious, she cried and tried to knock her head against the wall. At other times, she just lay there, not speaking,' a woman helping to take care of her said.

Ms Guo had no idea her husband was dead when a police officer took the family to the hospital on November 24 and she collapsed at the sight of his uncovered face.

During the two weeks that she has been in the hospital, neighbours and relatives have looked after her, but one said: 'We must be cautious. We do not dare to speak of [He's death].'

He's brother, He Yushu , said the couple's two sons, both in their 20s, were also distraught at the news of their father's death and other members of the community had had to keep an eye on them. 'They are suspicious of their father's death, and they want to go out. We don't know what they will do,' He Yushu said.

He said the ordeal was also taking its toll on him.

'I never had problems sleeping before, but now I can only sleep for four hours. How can I not be heartbroken? My sister-in-law and my nephews collapsed. I must be strong.'Irene Wang