Have boys in China died after wearing face masks while exercising?



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In the spring and summer of 2020, several readers asked Snopes to review the accuracy of news reports claiming two schoolchildren in China died suddenly during physical exercise while each wearing a face mask, in part of broader efforts to prevent the spread of the disease. COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

May 6, New York Post published an article titled “Two Boys Fall Dead in China While Wearing Masks During Gym Class”, while Australian TV Network 7News reported that:

“Two schoolchildren died within a week of each other while taking compulsory physical education exams while wearing face masks in China. Major cities and provinces in China are set to cancel testing this quarter over due to concerns about the physical condition of students after three months of lockdowns and closure of schools.

“Possible breathing difficulties during the examination while wearing the mask remains mandatory in the absence of vaccine also led to the decision, according to the reports. It comes after two 14-year-old boys ‘suddenly’ collapsed on their school’s athletic track and were later pronounced dead in Dancheng County, Henan Province, and Changsha City, China. Hunan Province, both located in central China.

the Daily mail released a similar report on May 4.

These reports contained a high degree of accuracy, although some distorted the respective ages of the boys. the deaths were widely reported in China in May 2020, which corroborates the following essential facts.

On April 24, a 15-year-old boy under the pseudonym Xiao Li died after collapsing during a gym class at Caiyuan Middle School in Henan Province. (Her age was mistakenly given as 14 in New York Post and 7News articles). On April 30, a 14-year-old boy from the Future Xiangjun Experimental School in Hunan Province died after collapsing during a running exercise in a gym class.

According to a report, education authorities in several Chinese provinces introduced new guidelines in late April and early May, apparently in response to the deaths, ordering schools not to force students to wear masks during exercise (but to maintain a distance between them. students), as well as avoiding gym classes at or around noon.

While we have found extensive corroborations of the circumstances surrounding the boys’ deaths, it is not clear whether wearing face masks was a contributing factor in their deaths, or just a coincidence.

May 4, People’s Daily reported that the family of the boy who died on April 24 had refused to accept an autopsy, meaning that no definitive conclusion could be drawn on the cause or causes of his death. According to others reports, an autopsy was also not performed in connection with the death of April 30.

The English-language reports mentioned above did not rightly state with any certainty that the boys wearing face masks was what killed them, and all three contained quotes from Cao Lanxiu, a professor at Shanxi University, Taiyuan City. Cao told Chinese media that she believes wearing the face masks is unlikely to be more than a coincidence in the boys’ deaths.


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