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Swine flu-hit toddler left dead in gutter

A three-year-old swine flu patient was left dead in a gutter by his parents in south China's Guangdong Province, the Guangzhou Daily reported today.

The boy's body was found yesterday afternoon in Guangzhou's Baiyun District. A medical record was found beside the body which showed the boy surnamed Zhou was a Guangxi native diagnosed with H1N1 flu when he was hospitalized on November 28, the newspaper said, quoting an unnamed source.

The source also said Zhou's parents, both migrant workers, asked the hospital to release the boy and refused further treatment as they didn't have any money. But the toddler died soon after he was out of hospital and his body was left in the gutter.

Police said the body was highly infectious and cordoned off the area while a disease control crew sanitized the body, which is now in a mortuary.

Zhou has been treated in two local hospitals and was a critical H1N1 patient, confirmed Huang Fei, vice head of the provincial health authority. Huang has ordered an investigation.

All health expenses of H1N1 patients are covered by national health insurance in China, and hospitals can't discharge patients because of unpaid fees.

But the report said critical H1N1 patients are required to pay at least 3,000 yuan (US$440) as deposit before they were hospitalized.


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