Police are investigating after a one-year-old girl is thought to have died of starvation while being cared for by her single mother in a locked-down Chinese city.
Authorities noticed a foul smell in the home of Ms Deng, 29, when they went to deliver her supplies for herself and her child and reportedly forced entry where they discovered the child’s corpse on 14th March.
The single parent, who has since been detained for questioning, lives alone in the poverty-stricken Lisi Community neighbourhood in the city of Xiaogan in Central China’s Hubei Province.
The city of five million has been on lockdown since 24th January, together with more than 50 million others in the virus-hit province.
A distressing clip taken by a neighbour showed mask-wearing police and health workers carrying the girl’s body out of the area inside a plastic sheet.
A statement by the local government said Ms Deng raised the child on her own.
The girl, who was one and a half years old, was declared dead at the scene, but officials have not commented on her precise cause of death, which local reports say was due to starvation.
According to a local resident Mr Huang, neighbourhood volunteers had closely monitored Ms Deng’s situation but were unable to provide effective social care. Ms Deng had been supported by local volunteers, who regularly donated money, clothes and foodstuffs to her, but the virus outbreak had made it difficult.
He said: “The developer who built our community went bankrupt 20 years ago. We’ve not had a managing authority in place since, and things only recently improved when a local government committee was established.”
He said however that the committee had been struggling since the virus hit saying: “During the outbreak, the committee has been managing matters, but it comprises low-level officials and volunteers.”
The girl’s body was found when police officers arrived at her home to deliver supplies, reports said.
She is believed to have been diagnosed with a psychological illness in the past, but the spokesperson did not say why the child was allowed to be in the care of a parent with mental health concerns.
An investigation is ongoing.
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