Wuhan woman wants China to pay.
Zhao Lei is suing the government for compensation and a rare public apology for its botched response to the coronavirus pandemic which has already killed 851,141 people and infected more than 25.5 million people worldwide.
Among those who lost their lives was Zhao’s father.
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Zhao, 39, told Sky News his father contracted the deadly disease at the end of January but the city’s emergency services were so overwhelmed by the tsunami of growing COVID-19 cases that there was no ambulance to take him to the hospital.
His family had to walk 6 miles in the freezing cold before they were finally picked up by a local driving a rickshaw. But by then, the damage was done and Zhao’s sick father only got worse. He died of respiratory failure while sitting in the emergency room waiting room.
“My dad was honest,” she says. “… He was very nice. In Wuhan, he was a very ordinary person. He obeyed all the rules. ”
The shock of losing her father prompted Zhao to make the courageous decision to go after the government on her own.
“I think the government has covered up some facts,” she said.
Zhao’s father fell ill shortly after the city was closed. His death was a shock to his system.
“At that point, I was stunned,” she says. “After that, my heart was broken and I was very angry too. “
“After that, my heart was broken and I was very angry too. ”
This anger turned into action.
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While thousands of families in Wuhan have mourned like Zhao, very few have publicly shamed and blamed the government – mostly out of fear.
The police reportedly visited her mother, warning her that Zhao should drop the case and not speak publicly about her experience.
The ruling Communist Party is notorious for silencing and detaining people who it believes speak homesickness or paint officials in any kind of negative light.
In fact, during the early days of COVID-19, Chinese authorities routinely arrested citizen journalists reporting from Wuhan, with some still in detention. The country has also expelled several Western journalists who dared to report on the new coronavirus which would end up ravaging the world.
But Zhao stands firm and says fear tactics aren’t going to change her mind. She is ready to take her case to the Supreme Court of Hubei, Wuhan province.
“What I have done is legal, what I have said is a fact,” she said. ” I did not lie. I did not invent rumors. ”
She also believes her trial is ultimately good for the country.
“It can warn people that if we have a disaster next time around, we could do something to avoid bad results. We can save more people, ”she said.
China has bent over backwards to try to change the global narrative on its handling of the killer virus. The adjusted national narrative is that China conquered the coronavirus and did it through the leadership of President Xi Jinping.
In June, the government released its official record of its response.
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“The Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government have made the epidemic a top priority and acted quickly,” the white paper says. “Secretary-General Xi Jinping took personal command, planned the response, oversaw the overall situation and acted decisively, showing the way forward in the fight against the epidemic. ”
Zhao does not buy it.