Two schoolboys have died within a week of one another while taking part in compulsory physical education examinations while wearing face masks in China. Major Chinese cities and provinces are moving to cancel this term’s running tests amid concerns over student fitness following three months of lockdown and school closures. Possible breathing difficulties during the exam while mask-wearing remains mandatory in the absence of a vaccine have also led to the decision, reports said. (See, “Masks, Superstition Not Science: https://wp.me/p19seq-7tz )
Parent Mr Li, whose son attended Dancheng Caiyuan Middle School, said CCTV images of the incident showed his boy doing laps of the athletics track for this PE class when he fell backwards on 24 April.
Mr Li said: “It happened within two to three minutes during his physical training class.
‘He suddenly fell backwards’
“He was wearing a mask while lapping the running track, then he suddenly fell backwards and hit his head on the ground.
“His teacher and classmates then tried to pull and drag him back up.”
The parent said a local hospital issued a death certificate claiming ‘suddencardiac arrest’ as the cause of death, and the family has opted against an autopsy in order to preserve the boy’s body.
However, Mr Li said: “I suspect it was because he was wearing a mask.
“It was sunny and their PE class was in the afternoon when it was at least 20 degrees Celsius.
Mr Li’s son had only been back at school for four days after classes resumed on 20 April for the first time since late January.
Mr Li, 45, and his wife, 38, buried their son on 30 April, the same day a second boy died in similar circumstances just six days after Mr Li’s son.
The pupil attending Changsha’s Xiangjun Future Experimental School was reportedly taking part in a 1,000-metre running exam while wearing an N95 respirator when he collapsed and died.
He is also thought to have died due to breathing difficulties during the PE exam, but it was unclear at the time of writing whether an autopsy had been ordered.