Wuhan resident Zhao Lei is suing the Chinese government for compensation and a public apology following thousands of coronavirus deaths in her city at the hands of the mystery disease, including the life of her father.

Wuhan was the first city to endure the hardship of the world’s first lockdown.

“I think the government covered up some facts,” Ms Zhao, 39, told Sky News.

“Because of this, Wuhan people carried on living like before, they celebrated Chinese New Year normally, without taking any protection. It meant my father got infected and died.”

Zhao Lei’s father contracted COVID-19 at the end of January and died of respiratory failure as he sat in the emergency waiting room.

“After Wuhan locked down, he got ill so suddenly. I can’t accept it. Someone just suddenly died. I cannot accept the fact,” Ms Zhao said.

“I think the government covered up the fact that coronavirus could spread from people to people. I hold the government accountable and ask them to pay the due price.”

The municipal court rejected her application and police visited her mother warning she should drop the case and not speak publicly.

Authorities detained several Chinese citizen journalists who reported from Wuhan, with some still in custody.

“What I did is legal, what I said is fact. I didn’t lie. I didn’t make up rumours,” she said.

“I think my lawsuit is good for our country. It can warn people that if we have a disaster next time, we could do something to prevent bad outcomes. We can save more people.”

It is a courageous fight against a system that does not tolerate dissent. China has always insisted it has acted “openly and transparently” in its handling of COVID-19.

Ms Zhao’s legal consultant Yang Zhanqing said China wouldn’t “publicly punish the people who covered up the epidemic” because “they don’t acknowledge that they did cover up the epidemic”.

Image: AP