November 29, 2020

Coronavirus ‘kills Chinese whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang’

A Chinese doctor who tried to issue the first warnings about the deadly coronavirus outbreak has died of the infection, Chinese media say.

Li Wenliang was working as an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital when he sent out a warning to fellow medics on 30 December.

Police then visited him to tell him to stop, as authorities tried to keep the news under wraps.

The virus has now killed more than 560 people and infected 28,000 in China.

The coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and symptoms usually start with a fever, followed by a dry cough. Most people infected are likely to fully recover – just as they would from a flu.

What is Li Wenliang’s story?
The ophthalmologist posted his story on the Weibo site from a hospital bed a month after sending out his initial warning.

Dr Li, 34, had noticed seven cases of a virus that he thought looked like Sars – the virus that led to a global epidemic in 2003.

The Chinese doctor who tried to warn others about coronavirus
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On 30 December he 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 eight people who police said were being investigated for “spreading rumours”

Local authorities later apologised to Dr Li.

In his Weibo post he describes how on 10 January he started coughing, the next day he had a fever and two days later he was in hospital. He was diagnosed with the coronavirus on 30 January.

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A number of posts on Chinese social media sites have expressed grief over his death.

Most of the coronavirus victims were over the age of 60 or suffered from other medical conditions, according to China’s health authorities. Dr Li’s medical history is not known.

What is the latest on the virus in China?
China is introducing more restrictive measures to try to control the outbreak.

Beijing has banned group dining for events such as birthdays and weddings while cities such as Hangzhou and Nanchang are limiting how many family members can leave home each day.

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