6-Year-Old Home Alone After Grandpa Passed Away

February 29, 2020 Updated: April 24, 2020

Zhangwan District in Shiyan City, Hubei province, is the first administrative region in China to implement “wartime control” in response to the coronavirus outbreak. From Feb. 13 onwards, all buildings have been completely closed. Government staff are delivering supplies to each community.

On the afternoon of Feb. 24, Tan Minhua, a 71-year-old retired worker from Dongfeng Automobile factory, was found dead in his home by a community worker who went to his residence to take his temperature. There, he found Tan’s grandson. Less than six years old, the boy might have spent three days alone with Tan’s dead body. The child said he had survived eating cookies.

Ms. Zhou, a resident of Shiyan, told NTD TV, “Before he passed away, the grandfather told the child that there’s a virus outside and that they couldn’t go out. Then the grandfather died at home, and the child was home alone for a few days. It wasn’t until the young volunteers went to their house to do body temperature measurement and pried the door open did people know he was dead. The child covered the old man well with a quilt, saying his grandfather had died a few days before. And then the volunteers hurriedly called the police.”

According to Chinese state media, the child’s father is working in Liuzhou City, Guangxi Province, and could not return home immediately.

Lv Xinhua, member of a Wuhan citizens support group, told NTD TV: “Most people just feel, how could such a terrible human tragedy happen? They just feel very sad, but no one tries to address the reasons behind it. This social phenomenon reflects that first of all, the cruel household registration system has torn apart so many families. Coupled with the epidemic, as well as the authority’s initial concealment and crack-down on whistleblowers, these factors have led to spreading of the epidemic, resulting in this ghastly human tragedy.”

This tragedy is the second of its kind reported in Hubei province in the past month. The first incident took place on Jan. 29, when Yan Cheng, a 17-year-old with cerebral palsy in Hongan County, Hubei province, starved to death at home after his father developed a fever and was taken away for quarantine.