Millions mourn doctor’s death

Wuhan: Dr Li Wenliang (pic), one of eight people who tried to warn about the novel coronavirus when it first emerged in Wuhan but was reprimanded by local police, has passed away from the virus, said the Central Hospital of Wuhan.

“After emergency treatment, Li Wenliang passed away, ” the Central Hospital of Wuhan announced on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, yesterday. “We deeply regret and mourn Li’s death.”

The hospital said Li, 33, died at 2.58am.

The doctor’s death triggered an outpouring of comments on China’s social media sites and concern from the international community.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dr Li Wenliang, ” tweeted the World Health Organization. “We all need to celebrate work that he did on 2019-nCoV.”

According to the doctor’s post on Weibo, on Dec 30, Li, an ophthalmologist at the Central Hospital of Wuhan, warned in the online chat group WeChat that he had seen a report that showed positive test results of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) for seven patients.

On Jan 3, Li and the seven others were summoned by Wuhan police for “spreading fake information on the Internet”.

They were reprimanded but not fined or detained, police said.

Li continued his normal work at the Wuhan hospital until Jan 10 when he came down with a cough and fever, symptoms of the coronavirus.

“I was finally confirmed as being infected by the novel coronavirus, ” Li wrote on Feb 1 on Weibo.

The post got over 1.6 million thumbs-ups and more than 400,000 netizens expressed their best wishes to him.

The National Supervisory Commission has decided to dispatch a team to Wuhan to investigate issues involving Li.

The investigation, approved by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, would be comprehensive, the commission said in a brief release on the joint website of the Central Commission of Discipline and Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission.

On Thursday evening, several Weibo posts said Li had died from the coronavirus and they went viral on social media, sparking sorrow and outrage among netizens.

At 12.38am yesterday, the Central Hospital of Wuhan denied Li had died.

“Dr Li was unfortunately infected by the novel coronavirus and he is now critically ill and under emergency treatment, ” said the hospital on its official Weibo account.

The post soon attracted millions of netizens to pray for the doctor.

“I won’t sleep tonight! Wait for a miracle online!” said one comment that received 350,000 thumbs-up.

Comments that received tens of thousands of thumbs-up included: “Please! Save him!” and “I am waiting for a miracle for medicine, for emergency treatment and for a hero!”

However, people did not witness a miracle. — China Daily/ANN

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