A Chinese doctor, who was among the first to who first warned Chinese government of the coronavirus outbreak but reprimanded by police, has died of the infection.
34-year-old Li Wenliang had been admitted to a hospital in early January and later confirmed to have the coronavirus.
Li on Dec. 30 told other doctors through a chat on the Chinese messaging app WeChat about a SARS-like illness that within weeks would explode into the coronavirus epidemic that has infected more than 25,000 people.
Days after his warning, he was reprimanded by police for rumor-mongering online, according to his social media account. The Chinese Supreme Court later said the police were wrong to have taken the actions they did against Li.
“We’re very sorry to hear of the loss of any person on the front line,” said Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, at a press conference in Geneva. “We will mourn his death with our colleagues.”
The death was reported earlier by the Global Times, a Chinese state-run media organization, and other Chinese outlets. A person familiar with the situation confirmed Li’s death to Bloomberg.
Li’s message was meant to be a cautionary note for his medical school friends to take care of their loved ones. But within hours of Wenliang revealing the information, the chats spread like wildfire on Chinese social media.
Is to be noted that Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Diseases) outbreak in 2003 in Southern China had left more than 8,000 people infected and 774 dead over 17 nations.