Wuhan residents remember coronavirus 'whistleblower' doctor a year after his death

WION Web Team
Wuhan, China Published: Feb 06, 2021, 07:14 PM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at a hospital in the city, became one of the most visible figures in the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan when he tried to sound the alarm about its appearance, but was reprimanded by police for "spreading rumours."

Residents in the Chinese city of Wuhan remember the "whistleblower" doctor who first sounded the alarm about the coronavirus outbreak before it received official recognition with fond memories.

Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at a hospital in the city, became one of the most visible figures in the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan when he tried to sound the alarm about its appearance, but was reprimanded by police for "spreading rumours."

The 34-year-old doctor's death from the virus on February 7 last year led to an outpouring of public mourning and rare expressions of anger online.

A year after his death, while people on the streets around Li's hospital say life in the city has mostly returned to its usual rhythm, they still revere him for his actions.

The origins of the virus have become highly politicised, and some Chinese diplomats and state media have thrown support behind theories that the virus potentially originated in another country.

A designer in Wuhan said he heard about Li's warning in the early days and rushed to stock up on masks before the officials spoke openly about the virus.

"The public strongly acknowledges him, and personally, I think he should receive more official honours, rather than being treated as what he did is already in the past," he said, adding the government made mistakes in the early stages, but it has handled it well since.

A World Health Organisation team is currently in Wuhan researching the early stages of the outbreak, and is preparing to present its findings, team member Dominic Dwyer told Reuters on Friday.

The team visited the sprawling Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, thought to be where the virus first became an outbreak, which led to a pandemic that has infected over 105 million people and killed nearly 3 million worldwide. The market site has been shut to the public since the beginning of last year.

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