He warned of the coronavirus early on and therefore got into trouble with the police. Now Chinese doctor Li Wenliang himself died of lung disease. The Chinese government is launching an investigation.

The 34-year-old Li Wenliang (article picture) infected himself in the fight against the virus, the “extensive efforts” to save his life were in vain, said the central hospital of the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan. Li worked there as an ophthalmologist. At the end of last year, he found symptoms similar to those of the Sars pathogen in patients. According to the official results, a total of 349 people died in mainland China in 2002 and 2003 from the Sars virus.

“Spreading rumors”

In a message to colleagues on December 30, Li shared his findings. Together with seven colleagues who had also reported the existence of the new virus, the police then warned him about the “spreading of rumors”. Li later became infected while treating a patient.

Chinese Internet users celebrated Li. A user who described himself as an orthopedic surgeon wrote on the Weibo network that he was “a hero” who paid for his work against the virus with his life.

With the approval of the party’s central committee, the state oversight commission sent an investigation team to Wuhan, the agency said. The death of the ophthalmologist had caused widespread concern across the country because it symbolized for many Chinese the consequences of the slow official response to the coronavirus.

China Wuhan laboratory tests for coronavirus (AFP)Chinese laboratory tests for coronaviruses

Meanwhile, China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping sees the fight against the spread of the virus at a “crucial stage”. In a phone call to President Donald Trump, Xi Jinping explicitly referred to the World Health Organization (WHO), which warned other countries about overreactions, according to state media. He hoped that the US, too, was “calm” about the situation and that its measures would “appropriately” meet and adjust in response. 

The number of deaths continues to rise

The President was referring to the US entry ban issued a week ago for Chinese and foreigners who were previously in China – except for relatives of US citizens. “We are fully confident and able to overcome the epidemic,” said Xi Jinping.

The number of deaths from the novel virus is now significantly higher in mainland China than during the Sars epidemic. According to new figures from the Chinese government, 636 people in mainland China have died as a result of the infection.


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