The daughter of a couple infected with the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus, one of whom has died, sneaked into a news conference held by the Shanghai government yesterday in an attempt to question senior health officials about her father's treatment.
The incident highlighted the lack of information family members of bird flu patients are receiving from hospitals and doctors in the commercial capital.
"The hospitals and medical staff appear friendly to members of the media like you but have responded in a lukewarm manner to inquiries from family members like me," the 26-year-old, who would only identify herself as Gu, told the South China Morning Post. "I wanted to ask the senior officials about my father's condition and thought the press conference would provide a good opportunity."
She was picked by city government spokesman Xu Wei to ask a question, but was interrupted by him after she identified herself as the daughter of patients in another confirmed family cluster of H7N9 cases in Shanghai.
She had hoped to question Wu Fan, director of the Shanghai Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, but was not allowed to speak.
"I am awfully worried because my father was said to be in critical condition," she said. "I hoped to ask director Wu what family members could do to help in the treatment."
Her mother died of the new strain of bird flu on April 3, and her father was confirmed to have been infected by the same virus on April 13. The daughter, who is studying abroad, has not seen her father since she returned to Shanghai on April 4.
He is now in quarantine and being treated at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre in the city's suburban Jinshan district.
The woman was taken away by officials after she spoke to reporters following the press conference.
She said Wu had promised to give her a reply after checking with the medical staff in charge of her father's treatment.
State leaders including President Xi Jinping have pledged to enhance transparency in the release of information about the H7N9 outbreak.
In Shanghai, the city government has been praised by the media for promptly releasing of H7N9-related information, but several family members of patients have complained that hospitals and doctors have tried to cover up cases.