The Chinese Doctor Who Was First To Alert People About Coronavirus Has Died

He was arrested on 3 January. Police alleged that he was "spreading rumours".

Cover image via The Guardian

A 34-year-old doctor in China who had raised the alarm about the novel coronavirus back in December 2019 has died of the infection. He worked as an ophthalmologist at the Wuhan Central Hospital.

Image via BBC

The Wuhan hospital where he was being treated announced his death

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

"He died at 2:58 am on 7 February after attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful."

Back in December 2019, when the outbreak was in its early days, Li had warned doctors on his medical school alumni group on WeChat

In his message, Li informed his fellow doctors that seven patients from a local seafood market had been diagnosed with a SARS-like disease and were quarantined at the Wuhan Central Hospital.

He said that doctors should consider wearing protective equipment to prevent getting infected.

He was then accused of rumour-mongering by the Wuhan police

Four days after his message, he was summoned to the Public Security Bureau on 3 January 2020 where he was accused of "making false comments" and acting illegally to disturb social order.

Dr Li was then told to sign a letter and made to agree that he will no longer discuss the disease.

"We solemnly warn you: If you keep being stubborn, with such impertinence, and continue this illegal activity, you will be brought to justice - is that understood?", reported BBC.

Underneath in Dr Li's handwriting is written: "Yes, I do."

He was one of eight people who police said were being investigated for "spreading rumours".

While authorities did eventually apologise to him and seven others with the central government conceding that Li and the others should not have been censored, it came too late for hundreds who have died in China including Li who got infected while treating his patients

In an interview with the Communist Party-controlled Beijing Youth Daily newspaper in late January, Dr Li said that the epidemic started to spread noticeably.

"I had personally been treating someone who was infected, and whose family got infected, and so then I got infected," he told the newspaper, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

He is father to a young child and his wife is pregnant with their second baby.

On 30 January, he was finally confirmed as one of the thousands of coronavirus patients.

"Today nucleic acid testing came back with a positive result, the dust has settled. Finally diagnosed."

News of Dr Li's death, which came as shock to many, prompted Chinese netizens on Weibo to trend "Wuhan gov owes lee an apology".

The trending topic on Weibo, however, was censored within an hour.

Back home, a journalist has been charged for spreading fake news:

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