Chinese whistleblower doctor dies from coronavirus

The Chinese doctor who first warned about the SARS-like virus in December 2019 has died, Wuhan Central Hospital confirmed on Friday morning, February 7.

Doctor who blew whistle over new coronavirus passed away, hospital confirmed Friday.
Doctor who blew whistle over new coronavirus passed away, hospital confirmed Friday.

Li Wenliang, 34, was declared dead at 2: 58 a.m. local time after "attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful."

"Our hospital's ophthalmologist Li Wenliang was unfortunately infected with coronavirus during his work in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic," the latest hospital statement read.


On Thursday night, some local and state news outlets reported his death which caused confusion and anger on Chinese social media. At that time, Li was in still alive but in critical condition.

Coronavirus whistleblower

It was on December 30, 2019 that Li messaged his colleagues in a WeChat group that seven patients from a local seafood market have been diagnosed with an illness similar to the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV). SARS affected over 8,000 people in 26 countries during the outbreak.

Seeing that the virus is highly contagious, Li told his colleagues to warn their families privately even as they investigated more about the disease. He explained that the pathogen involves a coronavirus, a large family of viruses that cause a range of respiratory diseases, including the common cold and SARS.

While he told his colleagues to privately warn their families, screenshots of his message would soon go viral. Later on, he added a subsequent message stating that the virus appears to be a new coronavirus, never seen before. But his message had already gone so viral by then that the authorities stepped in.

On January 3, Li was arrested for “spreading rumors online” and “severely disrupting social order”. Still, the doctor defended himself and said that the patients diagnosed with the condition underwent tests that gave positive results with a high “confidence coefficient”; this indicates accuracy.

The authorities refused to believe him and insisted that he was “severely disrupting social order” because of the “rumors” he is spreading. He was only allowed to leave the police station after he signed a statement admitting “illegal behavior”. Wuhan authorities had vowed to treat him and other “rumormongers” with “zero tolerance.

Sadly, Li was diagnosed with the 2019-nCoV in February after being in close contact with a patient he was treating at the hospital.

Death toll rises

Currently, the coronavirus outbreak has killed more than 600 people and infected over 28,000 in China. It has spread to over 25 countries and killed at least two people.

In the Philippines, number of persons under investigation (PUI) for possible coronavirus has risen to 178, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday. The first known death outside China due to virus was also reported in the country.

— The Summit Express

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