Baby boy suspected of suffocating to death after daycare center forces him to wear facemask

Police are investigating the death of an eleven-month-old boy who is suspected to have suffocated to death after being forced to wear a facemask against his will at a childcare center in New Taipei City, Monday.

“Tonight, a cute baby returned to heaven to be an angel. I feel extremely heavy-hearted,” CTS news anchor Lin Yen-ju (林彥汝) posted on Facebook last night, Tuesday, after receiving the news from a personal friend, who is also the boy’s maternal aunt.

According to news reports, Wednesday, the boy’s parents were notified by the public childcare center that their child had been taken to the hospital after losing vital signs. Hospital staff attempted to restore the child’s breathing and heartbeat, and he was put on a life support machine, but died the following day.

Surveillance camera footage viewed by the parents showed that the boy had attempted to remove a facial mask which the daycare center “encouraged” the children to wear due to “a rise in the number of respiratory viruses circulating.” One of the daycare center workers forced the mask back on the baby’s face, causing him to become upset and cry.

The boy then appeared to struggle and fall down, but the staff thought he had just fallen asleep and ignored him. The problem was not detected until around 20 minutes later when it was found that the boy was unconscious and without vital signs.

After viewing the footage, the baby’s grieving parents went a police station to make a formal report, accusing the director and staff of the daycare center of negligent homicide. Police seized the surveillance footage, and requested the District Prosecutor perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Family members said they wanted to share the story in the hope that people will pay more attention to the risk of young children crying while wearing masks. The family members believe the boy suffocated due to the mask becoming wet and soaked with tears and mucus.

Responding to the incident on Wednesday, Hsu Hsiu-neng (許秀能), deputy head of New Taipei’s Social Welfare Department, confirmed reports of the death, and said there had been a spike in respiratory illnesses among children during the recent spell of cold weather, so daycare centers have requested parents to have their children wear masks to prevent cross infection and “protect their health.”

Centers for Disease Control spokesman Lo Yi-chun said that currently there are no government regulations requiring masks to be worn at daycare centers. Such mandates were lifted on March 6, 2023.

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