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|Dr.Li before and after infected with coronavirus. Photo: Weibo|
According to local media, ophthalmologist Dr Li Wenliang died from the virus on Thursday.
Li, a 34-year-old doctor working in Wuhan, the central Chinese city at the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, told his friends to warn their loved ones privately. But within hours screenshots of his messages had gone viral -- without his name being blurred. "When I saw them circulating online, I realized that it was out of my control and I would probably be punished," Li said.
He was right.
Soon after he posted the message, Li was accused of rumor-mongering by the Wuhan police. He was one of several medics targeted by police for trying to blow the whistle on the deadly virus in the early weeks of the outbreak. The virus has since claimed at least 566 lives and sickened more than 28,000 people globally (statistics on Feb.6)
Summoned by the police
While Wuhan authorities announced the outbreak on December 31, Li was reprimanded by police on January 3 for “spreading rumors online” and “severely disrupting social order.”
“My family would worry sick about me, if I lose my freedom for a few days,” Li said. “There was nothing I could do. [Everything] has to adhere to the official line.
Luckily, Li was allowed to leave the police station after an hour.
On January 10, after unwittingly treating a patient with the Wuhan coronavirus, Li started coughing and developed a fever the next day. He was hospitalized on January 12. In the following days, Li's condition deteriorated so badly that he was admitted to the intensive care unit, and given oxygen support.
On February 1, he tested positive for coronavirus./.