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A Chinese doctor dies who first warned about the outbreak of coronavirus

BEIJING: Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, one of eight complainants who warned other doctors about the coronavirus outbreak but was reprimanded by police, died Thursday of the epidemic, official media reported.

Li, a 34-year-old doctor who tried to warn other doctors of the epidemic, died of coronavirus on Thursday in Wuhan, the state-run Global Times reported.

He was the first to report the virus in December last year when it first emerged in Wuhan, the provincial capital of the central province of Hubei in China.

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He dropped a bomb in the group of alumni of the medical school in the popular Chinese courier application WeChat that seven patients from a local seafood market had been diagnosed with a disease similar to SARS and quarantined in their hospital.

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The initial management of the epidemic by the government allowed the virus to remain tenacious. At critical moments, officials opted to put secrecy and order before facing openly the growing crisis to avoid public alarm and political shame. By not acting aggressively to warn the public and medical professionals, public health experts say, the Chinese government lost one of its best opportunities to prevent the disease from becoming an epidemic.

Li explained that, according to a test he had seen, the disease was a coronavirus, a large family of viruses that includes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that caused 800 deaths in China and the world in 2003.

Li told his friends to warn their loved ones in private. But in a matter of hours, the screenshots of his messages went viral, without his name being blurry.

“When I saw them circulating online, I realized that I was out of my control and that they would probably punish me,” Li told CNN recently.

Shortly after posting the message, Wuhan police accused Li of trafficking rumors.

He was one of several doctors selected by the police for trying to report the deadly virus in the first weeks of the outbreak.

In total, 564 people have died in China due to the virus and 28,018 confirmed cases from 31 regions have been reported at the provincial level, the National Health Commission said Thursday.

Times of India

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