Inquiries circulate on social media, asking about the authenticity of the news that states two Chinese boys who died during physical exercise while wearing face masks.

According to Snopes, several news media outlets reported that two boys had died after collapsing during physical education classes in late April at two different schools in the Henan and Hunan provinces.

Although the news reports were accurate, the claim that the boys died due to wearing face masks remains unclear.

Death by face masks?

In April and May, several online users requested that Snopes verify the reports of news articles that wrote two schoolboys from China suddenly died during gym class while they were both wearing face masks.

In May, reports that two boys died within a week of each other while attending physical education classes as they wore face masks began to circulate through the internet.

Several major Chinese cities and provinces have decided to cancel the physical exams across the country. The move comes as concerns over student fitness rise after three months of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The media outlets continue to report that the possibilities of breathing difficulties that could result from wearing face masks while exercising were factors in making the decision.

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The cancellation also came after two teenage boys suddenly collapsed on school grounds while on the running track and later declared dead in Dancheng County in the province of Henan and Changsha city in the region of Hunan, both of which are found in Central China.

While the reports had a high degree of accuracy, some misrepresented the boys' ages. The incidents were widely spread across China in May and provided support for several facts.

Teen drops dead in running track

Fourteen-year-old Xiao Li collapsed on April 24 during gym glass at Caiyuan Middle School and was later pronounced dead. Then on April 30, another teenager from the Xiangjun Future Experimental School collapsed and died while performing a running drill in a physical education class.

One of the deceased was only running for a few minutes before falling to the ground. The boy's father told reporters that his son was wearing a face mask while running laps in the running track, as reported by the New York Post.

The father revealed his son's teachers and classmates tried to help him but failed. While the victim's death certificate listed the cause of death as cardiac arrest, no autopsy was conducted.

The boy's father claimed his son's face mask, which the school required him to wear, played a role in his death, saying it could have caused discomfort while exercising.

However, Professor Cao Lanxiu of the Shaanxi University of Chinese Medicine, said it was unlikely the mask played a crucial role in the boy's death. Cao said it was impossible to tell the actual cause without doing an autopsy on the body.

The second boy died six days after the first in Changsha, who was wearing an N95 face mask. The victim was running a 1,000-meter fitness exam when he collapsed and later died.

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