China marks one year since Wuhan's COVID-19 lockdown

China works to contain new COVID-19 surge
China works to contain new COVID-19 surge 02:43

China is marking one year since COVID-19 forced Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, into an unprecedented lockdown. At the time, the virus didn't even have a name. 

Now, the city has returned to normalcy, and life there is strikingly different than life in the United States and many other countries.

But Zhang Hai remains angry. His father died from the coronavirus a year ago, and today, he refuses to pick up his ashes. He won't allow himself to enter the funeral home — a personal protest as he sues Wuhan for silencing early warnings.

"Their cover-up is murder," he told CBS News' Ramy Inocencio."They should be held accountable, there should be apologies." 

Zhang says his 76-year-old father might still be alive if he hadn't brought him in for unrelated surgery. His father is now part of China's official death toll: fewer than 5,000 deaths from the virus.

"I feel angry and sad. More commoners died than officials. There wasn't equality in death," he said.

Across town, the government's bigger narrative is that China succeeded and made no mistakes. A massive exhibition in the city praises President Xi Jinping and front line workers for beating back COVID.

Chinese officials say the coronavirus might have come from another country – something Peter Daszak, one of the 14 World Health Organization experts finally allowed into China, can't rule out. The experts landed in Wuhan last week to find COVID-19's origin. 

"It's unclear if China, the country, is the real source — the original source of the virus," Daszak said. "The evidence right now suggests a high probability that the region of Southeast Asia is where this started, you know in bats. That's where it originated."

The experts will remain in Wuhan for at least the next two weeks. 

Even when the experts leave, Hai said his father's ashes will stay where they are until the Communist Party apologizes.

"Letting people know what really happened is beneficial for our country and future," he said. "But for now lies are everywhere and few will speak the truth."