- The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China has risen anew to 636.
- "In the fight against the pneumonia epidemic of the new coronavirus infection, our hospital's ophthalmologist, Li Wenliang, was unfortunately infected."
- In late December 2019, the Doctor got in to trouble with the local authorities after he posted a warning on social media about the disease.
The doctor who alerted the public in December to what would later become known as the coronavirus, Li Wenliang, died Friday. He was 34. Li was officially pronounced dead at 2:58 AM local time after “emergency treatment.” The Chinese authorities at first denied the very first official announcement of Li’s death, but later confirmed it.
“In the fight against the pneumonia epidemic of the new coronavirus infection, our hospital’s ophthalmologist, Li Wenliang, was unfortunately infected. He passed away after all the efforts we’ve taken to resuscitate him. We deeply mourn his passing,” Wuhan Central Hospital said in a brief statement. The 34-year-old eye doctor contracted the new coronavirus while attending one of his patients.
In late December 2019, the Doctor got in to trouble with the local authorities after he posted a warning on social media about what he then described as a cluster of cases of a flu-like disease that he had attended to at his hospital. Seven patients were placed in quarantine, and in his description then, he closely related the disease symptoms to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). He equally advised his colleagues to wear protective clothing at work. Following his announcement, the authorities accused him of what they described as “spreading rumors,” and three days later, he was forced to sign a declaration to the effect that his warning was “illegal behavior” and that, “the disease is preventable and controllable.”
Reports of Dr. Li’s death have been trending on Chinese social media. Many see him as a hero, following his decision to alert the public concerning the virus, and despite the risks of being a whistleblower against China’s authoritarian government. The case has equally raised suspicions of neglect and postponement of Beijing’s epidemic alarm.
Meanwhile, the death toll from the new coronavirus has risen to 636, Chinese authorities confirmed in a balance sheet released on Friday. In China alone, 31,161 people are infected with the disease. In the last 24 hours, there were 73 fatalities, 69 in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak. The report by the National Health Commission showed that in the same period, 3,143 new cases of the disease were diagnosed.
Among those infected in the Chinese territory, more than 4,800 are in serious condition. Local authorities believe that the number of positive diagnoses is expected to grow significantly, as there are more than 26,000 people suspected of having contracted the virus. Outside mainland China, more than 240 cases of the disease have been confirmed in about 30 countries.
Thousands of tourists and crew are stranded on cruises in Asia. In Japan, 3,700 people from various nationalities are expected to be quarantined in Yokohama for 14 days on the “Diamond Princess” cruise, after 61 cases were confirmed on board. In Hong Kong, 3,600 people are also experiencing the same situation on the “World Dream” cruise, after three passengers tested positive for the new coronavirus. According to Japanese authorities, another case was detected onboard another ship, the “Westerdam”, which was sailing towards Japan.