Coronavirus: Film director and family 'die in self-quarantine'

Peter Stubley
Wuhan, epicentre of the virus' outbreak, has been under lockdown for weeks: Getty

A Chinese film director and his parents and sister have all reportedly died from coronavirus after quarantining themselves at home in the city at the centre of the outbreak.

Chang Kai, 55, reportedly described in a final message on social media how he had struggled to secure hospital beds for his family in Wuhan after they fell ill.

His father died on 28 January, three days after reporting symptoms of Covid-19, followed by his mother on 2 February.

“My father had a fever, cough and trouble breathing,” Mr Chang wrote. “I tried to send him to the hospital but none of the hospitals we visited took him, because they had no more beds.”

Before his own death on 14 February he signed off with the message: “As I draw my last feeble breaths, I say to my family, my friends, and my son in faraway London: All my life, I was a filial son, a responsible father, a loving husband, and an honest person! Farewell to those I love and to those who loved me!”

His older sister died of the illness a few hours after Mr Chang, a director with Hubei FIlm Studio. His wife remains in critical condition, according to the Chinese news site Caixin.

The deaths prompted criticism of the government’s initial advice that patients should self-isolate at home rather than overburden the city’s hospitals. Authorities eventually changed the policy on 2 February after building two new 1,000-bed hospitals in just 10 days.

Officials have also been accused of trying to cover up or downplay the outbreak by reprimanding doctors who tried to warn the public.

Wuhan and several other cities in Hubei province have been under lockdown since the Lunar New Year holiday last month. Nearly all movement has been restricted apart from quarantine efforts, medical care and delivery of food and basic necessities.

Hubei province has accounted for 95 per cent of China’s 2,004 deaths from coronavirus, and more than 80 per cent of the 74,185 total cases. The figures include the 136 new deaths and 1,749 new cases reported by authorities on Wednesday.

Five deaths have been reported outside the mainland, in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and France.

There have been nine cases confirmed in the UK, whcih also advises the public to self-isolate if they develop symptoms.

Britons stuck on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship in Japan will be evacuated “as soon as possible,” the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has announced.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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