A group of children wearing face masks, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, running along a street in Beijing.Wang Zhao/Getty Images
Two Chinese boys dropped dead within a week of one another while wearing face masks during gym class, according to a report.
The students, who were both 14, were each running laps for a physical examination test when they suddenly collapsed on the track, Australian outlet 7News reported.
One of the teens was only minutes into his gym class when he fell backward April 24 at Dancheng Caiyuan Middle School in Henan province, according to the outlet.
“He was wearing a mask while lapping the running track, then he suddenly fell backwards and hit his head on the ground,” his father, who was only identified as Li, told the outlet.
His dad said teachers and students tried to help him, to no avail.
The death certificate listed the cause as sudden cardiac arrest, but no autopsy was performed, the outlet said.
The boy’s father said he believes that the mask his son was required to wear to school played a role in his death.
“I suspect it was because he was wearing a mask,” he said, adding that “it couldn’t have been comfortable wearing a mask while running.”
But Cao Lanxiu, professor at Shaanxi University of Chinese Medicine, said it’s unlikely that the mask caused the boy to suffocate.
“I don’t think mask-wearing has caused this sudden death,” Cao said, though she added that it was impossible to say without an autopsy.
Six days after his death, the second student collapsed at Changsha’s Xiangjun Future Experimental School in Hunan province, the outlet reported.
He had been wearing an N95 respirator and running a 1,000-meter exam when the fatal incident occurred, the report said. It’s unclear whether an autopsy had been ordered.
Though it’s not known whether the masks played a role in either death, several schools in Tianjin and Shanghai have canceled physical education exams, according to the report.