Katherine Davison 7NEWS Published: Tuesday, 5 May 2020 2:32 pm
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.
It comes after two 14-year-old boys ‘suddenly’ collapsed on their school running track and were subsequently declared dead in the county of Dancheng in Henan Province and the city of Changsha in Hunan Province – both in Central China.
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 ‘sudden cardiac 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.
“It couldn’t have been comfortable wearing a mask while running.”