A doctor popular regarded in China for blowing the whistle on the threat posed by the new Wuhan coronavirus died from the illness on Frida, leading to a massive outpouring of anger and grief on social media.
Dr. Li Wenliang, 34, who voiced concerns about the highly contagious coronavirus, died at 2:58 am on February 7, according to the Wuhan Central Hospital.
He was in a critical condition after catching the infection, according to China’s Global Times. CBS News had earlier reported his death, making reference to an earlier Global Times report and a statement made by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr. Wenliang was an ophthalmologist. He warned fellow doctors in a group chat in December that a SARS-like virus is popping up in one of Wuhan’s main hospitals, according to BBC News.
Chinese government officials warned him to stop “making false comments.” In fact, they visited and accused him of having “severely disturbed the social order,” according to BBC News.
The officials went on to issue an official letter to Dr. Wenliang, stating, “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?” The ophthalmologist had to sign the letter.
In January, he was diagnosed with the new coronavirus infection. After that, he was regarded as a hero in China and was lauded on social media for voicing his concerns over the new virus.
However, local health officials later apologized to Dr. Wenliang.
In China, the new coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV, has affected 31,161 and killed 636 so far. The United States reported 12 confirmed cases so far, with no deaths. Worldwide, the new virus has affected 31,481 people and killed 638.