The Chinese doctor who was allegedly detained in China for trying to warn his fellow medics about the coronavirus outbreak has died from the virus itself.
Li Wenliang was an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital who sent out a warning about the coronavirus to his colleagues on Dec. 30, according to the BBC.
Li had observed seven cases of a virus that looked like SARS, and he cautioned his fellow doctors to wear protective clothing to avoid possible infection.
The Public Security Bureau summoned Li four days later and forced him to sign a letter saying that he was “making false comments.”
Seven other people were investigated as well for “spreading rumors.”
Authorities later apologized to the doctor for their actions.
Li wrote in a post on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website, that he had begun coughing on Jan. 10.
Days later, he was admitted to a hospital, and eventually diagnosed with coronavirus on Jan. 30.
There were initially conflicting reports about his death, with Chinese state-run media first reporting he had died, and later saying he was actually in critical condition.
Later Tuesday, Wuhan Central Hospital announced he had in fact died, according to Fox News.
We deeply mourn the death of #Wuhan doctor Li wenliang, who unfortunately got infected with novel #Coronavirus while battling with the epidemic. After all-effort rescue, Li passed away on 2:58 am, Feb. 7. pic.twitter.com/mbYA3wB4pn
— People’s Daily, China (@PDChina) February 6, 2020
Li was “unfortunately infected during the fight against the pneumonia epidemic of the new coronavirus infection,” the hospital said in a statement. “We deeply regret and mourn this.”
It is unknown at this time if Li had any other underlying health conditions or complications with the virus.
Prior to his death, Li told The New York Times that the outbreak could have been different if officials heeded his warnings.
“If the officials had disclosed information about the epidemic earlier, I think it would have been a lot better,” he said. “There should be more openness and transparency.”
There are over 28,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide, resulting in at least 563 deaths in China as of Thursday.
There have been at least 230 cases of the virus confirmed outside of mainland China. As of Sunday, there were 11 confirmed cases inside the United States.
The cases have been reported in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Arizona and Washington state.
Although the World Health Organization said it is too early to say that the outbreak was peaking, Wednesday was the first day there was a drop in the overall number of new cases in China, The Guardian reported.
Health experts were preparing to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, next week to try to develop a vaccine for the deadly virus.
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