Condolences and sadness filled the hearts of people across the country on Friday after a doctor in Wuhan — who had originally been reprimanded for sounding an early alarm on the novel coronavirus — died of the very same pathogen early in the morning.
The National Supervisory Commission on Friday said it would dispatch a team to Wuhan to investigate issues regarding the death of Li Wenliang amid a public outcry.
The National Health Commission, the country’s top health authority, called for joint efforts nationwide at this critical moment for epidemic control while expressing deep condolences over Li’s passing.
Li, a 34-year-old ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital in Hubei province, died after being infected with the virus. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful, the hospital said.
Li was among a group of people who tried to warn about the novel coronavirus when it first emerged in Wuhan, the epidemic center of the disease, but was reprimanded by local police for “spreading rumors online”.
On Dec 30, Li said in an online WeChat group that he had seen a report that showed positive test results of severe acute respiratory syndrome for seven patients, and told colleagues and friends to be careful.
On Jan 3, Li was summoned by Wuhan police for “spreading fake information on the internet”. He was reprimanded but not fined or detained, according to the police.
Li carried on his normal work in the hospital until Jan 10 when he came down with a cough and fever, symptoms of the novel coronavirus. On Feb 1, he posted on his Weibo account, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that he was confirmed as having the infection.
Li’s death led to a massive outpouring of grief all across society.
The NHC, the Hubei health commission, the Chinese Medical Doctor Association and the Wuhan government all expressed condolences over Li’s death and extended sympathy to his family.
In a news briefing on Friday, Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, also expressed condolences over Li’s death.