In September, a bus crashed while taking dozens of people to a quarantine facility in the middle of the night, killing 27; many social media users suggested that a rush to send people to isolation was to blame. Pregnant women have miscarried, and a nurse in Shanghai died of an asthma attack, after being refused care under Covid protocols.
But the central government has doubled down on zero Covid, with China’s leader, Xi Jinping, declaring the strategy a success as he claimed a third term last month. Internet censors quickly scrub public discussion of deaths connected to the restrictions, or try to limit it to an official narrative.
Such censorship appears to have been applied in the case of Mr. Tuo’s son.
After Mr. Tuo published a blog post on Wednesday demanding an official explanation for the boy’s death, it was read more than 25 million times in seven hours. He wrote that he had first noticed around noon on Tuesday that his wife seemed unwell and after checking on her, saw that his son was unconscious. (The police later said that “improper use” of a liquefied gas stove had caused a carbon monoxide leak.)
When Mr. Tuo’s emergency calls failed, he went outside and asked officials at a checkpoint — the area had been sealed off because of the virus — for help. They refused, he wrote.
Finally, carrying his son, he tore down some of the fencing that had been put up around his neighborhood, and with the help of another person was able to flag down a taxi. By the time they arrived at the hospital, it was too late.
“If my son had been sent to the hospital earlier, he might have still been saved,” Mr. Tuo wrote. He added that someone claiming to be from a nongovernmental organization had offered him 100,000 renminbi, or about $14,000, if he agreed not to hold local officials responsible.
As public pressure mounted, Lanzhou officials told a state-owned newspaper that they would investigate. But Mr. Tuo’s blog post was deleted.