Personal note: I am sharing two articles about this young doctor who first tried to report about the virus in China but told to shut up. The first article is about the spread of the virus. The second article announces his sudden death. Now the citizens of China demand answers from the Government. A sad day for all of us.
1st article: The Chinese doctor who tried to warn others about coronavirus
By Stephanie Hegarty BBC World Service
• February 4 2020 BBC NEWS
In early January, authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan were trying to keep news of a new coronavirus under wraps. When one doctor tried to warn fellow medics about the outbreak, police paid him a visit and told him to stop. A month later he has been hailed as a hero, after he posted his story from a hospital bed.
“Hello everyone, this is Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital,” the post begins.
It’s a stunning insight into the botched response by local authorities in Wuhan in the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak.
Dr Li was working at the centre of the outbreak in December when he noticed seven cases of a virus that he thought looked like Sars – the virus that led to a global epidemic in 2003. The cases were thought to come from the Huanan Seafood market in Wuhan and the patients were in quarantine in his hospital.
On 30 December he sent a message to fellow doctors in a chat group warning them about the outbreak and advising they wear protective clothing to avoid infection.
What Dr Li didn’t know then was that the disease that had been discovered was an entirely new coronavirus.
Four days later he had a visit from officials from the Public Security Bureau who told him to sign a letter. In the letter he was accused of “making false comments” that had “severely disturbed the social order”.
“We solemnly warn you: If you keep being stubborn, with such impertinence, and continue this illegal activity, you will be brought to justice – is that understood?” Underneath in Dr Li’s handwriting is written: “Yes, I do.”
He was one of eight people who police said were being investigated for “spreading rumours”.
At the end of January, Dr Li published a copy of the letter on Weibo and explained what had happened. In the meantime, local authorities had apologised to him but that apology came too late.
For the first few weeks of January officials in Wuhan were insisting that only those who came in contact with infected animals could catch the virus. No guidance was issued to protect doctors.
But just a week after his visit from the police, Dr Li was treating a woman with glaucoma. He didn’t know that she had been infected with the new coronavirus.
In his Weibo post he describes how on 10 January he started coughing, the next day he had a fever and two days later he was in hospital. His parents also fell ill and were taken to hospital.
It was 10 days later – on 20 January – that China declared the outbreak an emergency.
Dr Li says he was tested several times for coronavirus, all of them came back negative.
On 30 January he posted again: “Today nucleic acid testing came back with a positive result, the dust has settled, finally diagnosed.”
He punctuated the short post with an emoji of a dog with its eyes rolled back, tongue hanging out.
Not surprisingly the post received thousands of comments and words of support.
Dr Li Wenliang is a hero,” one user said, worrying about what his story says about their country. “In the future, doctors will be more afraid to issue early warnings when they find signs of infectious diseases.”
“A safer public health environment…requires tens of millions of Li Wenliang.”
2nd Article: Whistleblower Chinese doctor dies from coronavirus in Wuhan
Li Wenliang targeted by police after warning about outbreak on social media in December
• Coronavirus – latest developments
Emma Graham-Harrison and Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Thu 6 Feb 2020
Dr Li Wenliang’s relative youth and the slow development of his infection may add to medical concerns about the fatality of the coronavirus. Photograph: Handout
A whistleblowing Chinese doctor, who was among the first to raise concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus in Wuhan, has died from the disease.
Li Wenliang, 34, had been targeted by Chinese police for “spreading rumours” after posting a warning on social media in late December 2019 about a cluster of cases of a flu-like disease that had been treated at his hospital.
Seven patients were in quarantine and the disease symptoms reminded him of Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome). He urged colleagues to wear protective clothing at work.
Four days later he was summoned to the local public security bureau, accused of “making false comments” and disturbing the social order. He was told that if he continued to talk about the disease, he would be “brought to justice”.
Li was one of eight people targeted by authorities for “sharing false information”, in a heavy-handed approach that was later criticised by China’s supreme court. He agreed not to discuss his concerns in public again.
But in early January he treated a woman with glaucoma without realising she was also a coronavirus patient; he appears to have been infected during the operation.
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On the 10 January, when China was still insisting there had been no new cases for a week, he started coughing then developed a fever. Two days later he was in hospital; his parents also fell ill.
The Global Times, a state-owned tabloid newspaper, tweeted on Thursday that Li had died from the virus nearly a month after he fell ill.
Before he died, Li, who had a child and was expecting a second this summer, had broken his silence to give interviews from his hospital bed.
“If the officials had disclosed information about the epidemic earlier, I think it would have been a lot better. There should be more openness and transparency,” he told the New York Times.
Li’s relative youth and the slow development of his infection may add to medical concerns about the fatality of the coronavirus.
Most of the dead have been older, with underlying health conditions. It is not clear whether Li had any previous health problems.
The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China reached 563 on Thursday, as health experts prepared to meet in Geneva next week in an attempt to develop a vaccine
Chinese authorities said the death toll had risen by 73 in the previous 24 hours – the third record daily rise in a row – with 70 of the deaths recorded in Hubei province, the centre of the outbreak.
There are more than 28,000 cases in China, according to health officials. The youngest patient is a baby born on Saturday in Wuhan and confirmed positive just 36 hours after birth. The baby was immediately separated from the mother after the birth and has been under artificial feeding.
The World Health Organization (WHO) however said on Thursday that while it was too early to say that China’s coronavirus outbreak was peaking, Wednesday was the first day that the overall number of new cases in China had dropped. WHO official Mike Ryan said there had been a constant increase in cases in Hubei province but that had not been seen in other provinces.
In Wuhan, the largest city in Hubei, hospitals were struggling to find enough beds for patients. A 1,500-bed hospital opened on Thursday, just days after a 1,000-bed hospital with prefabricated wards and isolation rooms began taking patients, but senior officials said the city of 11 million was close to capacity with only 8,254 beds for 8,182 coronavirus patients.
Outside mainland China, at least 230 cases have been confirmed, including two fatalities, one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines.
On Thursday the UK confirmed a third case, while Japan confirmed another 10 infections among 3,700 passengers and crew stuck onboard the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship moored off the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo.
The 10 new cases involve four people from Japan, two each from the US and Canada, and one each from New Zealand and Taiwan, the health ministry said, adding that five were in their 70s, four in their 60s and one in their 50s.
Japanese health officials now have the results of 102 tests conducted on 273 passengers and crew who complained of feeling unwell or had been in close contact with a man in his 80s who disembarked late last month and tested positive on his return home to Hong Kong.
TV footage showed the vessel arriving at Yokohama port to take on food and other supplies and hand over the infected patients, who are being treated at hospitals in the Yokohama area. Port officials could be seen dressed in white full-body protective suits, face masks and helmets.
The WHO is asking for $675m to stop the outbreak. Its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, acknowledged that the sum was large, but said it was “much less than the bill we will face if we do not invest in preparedness now.”
Li’s fate has echoes of Carlo Urbani, an Italian doctor who in 2003 played a crucial role in identifying Sars and raising the international alarm but was eventually killed by it.
Working for the WHO in Hanoi, Vietnam, he was called to a hospital when a patient arrived from Hong Kong with unusual pneumonia symptoms.
He recognised the disease was highly contagious, brought in strict controls and called in international health authorities. His action led to the WHO raising a worldwide alert about the disease and halted its spread in Vietnam.