Hu’s son is now suing the Wuhan municipal government for allegedly concealing the seriousness of the virus, among other complaints, according to court documents prepared by Funeng, a public welfare NGO based in Changsha. Hu’s son is among a small but significant group of residents seeking answers, compensation or simply an apology from officials who took weeks to notify the public of the threat from a virus that went on to claim the lives of at least 4,000 people in China, according to government figures, most of them in Wuhan.

Other cases include a civil servant suing the Hubei provincial government, a mother petitioning for officials to be punished after watching her 24-year-old daughter die of the virus, and a son who rushed his quickly fading mother to a hospital in the suburbs of Wuhan where he was able to get her admitted to intensive care. When he went to pick up supplies for her, he received a phone call from the hospital. His mother had died.

“None of this would have happened if they had told us. So many people would not have had to die,” said a relative involved in one of the lawsuits. Another said: “I want an answer. I want those responsible to be punished under the law.”