Chinese whistleblower doctor who flagged coronavirus dies

WION Web Team Wuhan, China Feb 07, 2020, 09.56 AM(IST)

Chinese doctor Li Wenliang. Photograph:( Others )

Story highlights

Li Wenliang's death was reported by the Wuhan Central Hospital, a little after 3 am local time in China.

The Chinese doctor who had flagged the coronavirus outbreak died early morning on Friday. Li Wenliang's death was reported by the Wuhan central hospital, a little after 3 am local time in China.

However, there have been conflicting reports about his death.

Also read: Chinese authorities ignored early reports of 'mysterious' coronavirus by doctor: Report

The state-backed Chinese media had already reported his death on Thursday, hours before it was confirmed by the hospital.

The initial report of Li's death led to a massive reaction on Chinese social media. People hailed him as a hero and even blamed the government for dismissing his claims on the virus back in December. But very soon, the state-backed media changed their narrative.

Also read: Chinese doctor who was silenced becomes a coronavirus victim

They said that Li was alive and was being given ECMO treatment which is a kind of life support. However, hours later, they finally confirmed his time of death as 2:58 am.

World Health Organisation's representative Mike Ryan initially expressed condolences on Li's death.

Also read: World has 'window of opportunity' to halt virus spread: World Health Organisation chief

Two months ago, Li, 34, had warned the world about a possible virus outbreak in his country. He had written to fellow doctors about a SARS-like infection in December and had urged them to take precautions so as to not contract the disease.

The authorities had dismissed him as a fear-monger and accused him of spreading rumours. He was asked to sign a letter which accused him of making false statements and then on January 10, Li contracted the disease from a patient he had operated.

From his hospital bed, Li revealed that the outbreak could have been controlled better had the government been proactive.