A Chinese doctor who tried to issue the first warning about the deadly Coronavirus outbreaks, succumbed to the virus himself.
Li Wenliang, a 34-year old Chinese doctor got infected with Coronavirus while working at Wuhan Central Hospital.He had initially sent out a warning to his fellow medics on December 30 but the police told him to stop “making false comments.” According to recent reports, Dr. Li died at 02:58 on Friday, February 7 (18:58 GMT Thursday).
Dr Li, an ophthalmologist, posted his story on Weibo from a hospital, a month after sending out his initial warning. The 34 – year-old had noticed seven cases of a virus that according to him, looked like Sars – the virus that led to a global epidemic in 2003. On December 30, Dr. Li had sent a message to fellow doctors in a chat group warning them to wear protective clothing to avoid infection.
Four days later, he was summoned to the Public Security Bureau where he was told to sign a letter. In the letter, he was accused of “making false comments” that had “severely disturbed the social order”. He was one of the eight people who were accused by the police of “spreading rumors.” Local authorities later apologised to Dr Li.
In his Weibo post, Dr. Li had described his initial symptoms: cough and fever. He was hospitalized two days later and diagnosed with Coronavirus on January 30.
The incident of Dr. Li’s death caused a major uproar on the Chinese social media site, Weibo. The top two trending hashtags on the website were “Wuhan government owes Dr Li Wenliang an apology” and “We want freedom of speech.” Both hashtags were however, soon, censored. Thousands of comments had already been wiped from the site by Friday morning.
Only a handful of critical comments now remain, most of which do not directly name him but are indicative of the mounting anger and distrust amongst the people towards the Chinese government. “Do not forget how you feel now. Do not forget this anger. We must not let this happen again,” one of the comments on the Chinese social media site, said.
The virus has killed 636 people and infected 31,161 in mainland China, the National Health Commission’s latest figures show. The virus causes severe acute respiratory infection and the symptoms usually begin with a fever, followed by a dry cough.