A young boy in Hubei province in China — the epicenter of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak — was found at home, where his grandfather died, unable to leave due to virus-related restrictions in the city, according to local reports.
Community workers in the Zhangwan district of the city of Shiyan on Monday found an elderly man — identified only by his last name, Tan — dead in his home. A young boy, who was not identified but is believed to be about 5 or 6 years old, was reportedly found at the home as well, Guo Ruibing, vice deputy director of the publicity department of Zhangwan district, told local media, according to the Guardian.
The boy — who reportedly fended for himself for “several days” after his grandfather’s death, surviving on cookies — told the community workers who found him that he did not go outside because of the coronavirus, according to posts on the Chinese social media app Weibo.
“Grandpa said not to leave. There is a virus outside,” the boy purportedly said, as per the Guardian.
But Guo, speaking to government-affiliated Hongxing News, refuted reports that the boy’s grandfather had died several days prior, explaining that community workers make daily visits to residents under lockdown to check their temperatures and ensure they have enough food.
It’s not currently clear how the boy’s grandfather died and if the novel virus is suspected in his death. Guo said the time and cause of the man’s death is under investigation, the Guardian reported. Tan’s temperature was reportedly normal before he passed, Guo added.
The boy is now under the care of the Zhangwan district. The boy’s father is currently in the Guangxi province and cannot return due to the “wartime” quarantine measures, according to the outlet.
The Zhangwan district enacted the wartime quarantine measure earlier this month in a bid to stop the spread of the novel virus, known as COVID-19. Residents who are not directly involved in responding to the outbreak are not allowed to leave their homes during this time, according to Newsweek.
The news comes after a 17-year-old Chinese teen with cerebral palsy reportedly died after his father and sole caretaker was quarantined amid the outbreak.
The teen, identified as Yan Cheng, was from a rural village in Hubei province. Cheng was reportedly found dead at his home nearly a week after his father was quarantined at a facility roughly 15 miles from their village.
After he was quarantined, he allegedly took the Chinese social media platform Weibo in a plea for someone in the village to check on his son. Local officials reportedly came to the family’s home, but the 17-year-old was only fed twice over a six-day period.
There are now more than 80,000 individual cases of the novel virus worldwide, while over 2,700 people have died in the outbreak, according to Wednesday estimates.