Dead man's family claims bird flu cover-up by hospital
Wu Demao was bewildered when he heard that his son-in-law, Wu Liangliang, who died on March 10 at Shanghai No 5 People's Hospital, was a victim of H7N9 bird flu.
"No one has so far officially informed us of the true cause of his death," Wu said. "It was one of our relatives who told us that the local television had reported that my son-in-law died of a new strain of bird flu."
Wu Liangliang, 27, from Yancheng in Jiangsu, was the second man found to have caught H7N9 flu in Shanghai, the city government announced at a press conference on Tuesday, giving only his family name.
He arrived in Shanghai in February to visit his parents-in-law and helped Wu Demao, a pork vendor at a wet market on Jinggu Road in Minhang district.
Wu Liangliang suffered from high fever in late February and initial treatment by a nearby clinic and the No5 People's Hospital proved unsuccessful. He was admitted on March 1.
Doctors told the family he had pneumonia and he was not put into quarantine, Wu Demao said.
The hospital paid the family 130,000 yuan (HK$161,000) in compensation on March 26, saying it was for humanitarian reasons and for its minor responsibility in Wu Liangliang's treatment, without elaborating.
"They should have been responsible for giving us the true reason for his death," Wu Demao said. "We couldn't understand why a healthy young man could have passed away so quickly."
Family members are angry, accusing the hospital of covering up Wu Liangliang's illness.
"We went to ask the hospital to clarify whether it was the bird flu that killed him, but their attitude was rude and unacceptable," Wu Demao said. "They said we should go ask the television station to check out whether the death was due to bird flu."
The central and municipal authorities have pledged to ensure transparency in informing the media and the public of the extent of the H7N9 outbreak.
The No5 People's Hospital turned down an interview request on Thursday.
Wu Demao said his family was considering appeals to the Shanghai and central governments in their fight for justice.
"But I am still worried whether high-level officials would protect the hospital. We are ordinary civilians and it is a hospital controlled and run by the government," he said.
Click on each balloon for more information on individual patients infected with the avian flu virus: blue, patients infected with the H7N9 virus under treatment; red, those infected with the H7N9 who have died; and pink, those with H1N1 avian flu virus.