Sat, May 10, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Grieving relative wonders why case was covered up


A legislative assistant charged yesterday that the confirmed SARS-related death of his grandfather earlier this week was deliberately concealed by central and local health authorities.

"My grandfather passed away yesterday morning and had been identified as a SARS death. The department of health and Taipei City Health Bureau however reported no SARS-related deaths [Thursday]," said Lee Ming-yueh (李明岳), an assistant to DPP Legislator Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻).

Lee's grandfather, Huang Ruei-chang (黃瑞昌), died at Shin Kong Wu Ho-su Memorial Hospital Thursday morning and was confirmed as a SARS fatality.

The 82-year-old Huang was cremated later that day at the second municipal funeral home, following the required decontamination procdures for SARS victims.

"The city authorities issued a death certificate that clearly states that my grandfather died as a result of his SARS infection, yet I don't understand why both the DOH and the city government claim that there were no SARS-related deaths reported on the same day [that appears on the certificate]," Lee.

Lee noted that Shin Kong hospital, where his grandfather was transferred to from Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital after the municipal hospital was sealed off on April 24, faces a charge of covering up the death which was related to the rampantly spreading disease.

"The hospital should have reported the case to authorities on the same day of my grandfather's death," he said.

Lee voiced another cause for resentment over the improper handling of the city government's burial procedure. He was unhappy that his family could not retrieve his grandfather's remains until the next morning.

"The funeral parlor turned down my family's request to collect my grandfather's remains right after the cremation at 4pm Thursday, because it was after hours," he said.

Lee said his grandfather was infected at Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital last month.

Lee explained that his grandfather was hospitalized for diabetes mellitus in mid-April and was placed in the same floor with an infected hospital laundry employee -- the first so-called "super spreader."

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