Chinese doctor who was reprimanded for trying to warn of Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in critical condition: Report

China’s state-run Global Times on Thursday withdrew the report on the death of a Chinese doctor who warned of the coronavirus outbreak but was targeted by the police for “rumour-mongering.”

The death of Li Wenliang, one of the eight whistle-blowers who warned other medics of the outbreak, was widely reported by all media platforms after Global Times published a report announcing the same. 

Wenliang, 34, died of coronavirus on Thursday in Wuhan, the state-run Global Times reported. The report was, however, later deleted as the URL page gave an error and a tweet sharing the report by the state-linked English publication was also not available.

The later report said that Wenliang, one of the eight “whistleblowers” who tried to warn other medics of the coronavirus outbreak but were reprimanded by local police, is still under emergency treatment for coronavirus infection, the hospital where he is receiving treatment announced. He is currently in critical condition. 

He was then given treatment with ECMO (extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation), the report said. 

The doctor was the first to report about the virus way back in December last year when it first emerged in Wuhan. The provincial capital of China’s central Hubei province is the epicentre of the outbreak.

Li worked for Wuhan Central Hospital and initially warned his college classmates about the deadly virus in December 2019, urging them to take care. 

On December 30, he obtained a patient report suggesting SARS-like coronavirus positive signs following which he shared information in a group chat saying that there have been seven confirmed cases of “SARS,” according to one of his Weibo posts. 

On January 3, local police reprimanded him for spreading “online rumours” and asked him to sign a letter of reprimand. 

Since then, he returned to work and went on to treat patients infected with coronavirus. He began coughing on January 10 and reported having fever the next day. 

He was subsequently hospitalised in Wuhan Central Hospital on January 12. 

Ar least 564 people have died in China due to the virus and over 28,000 confirmed cases have been reported from the country, the National Health Commission reported on Thursday.

China is battling a “rumour” as the reports of a much higher death toll and infected cases in the coronavirus outbreak spread. 

Tencent, which runs popular social media APP weChat, over the weekend seems to have “inadvertently released what is potentially the actual number of infections and deaths, which were astronomically higher than the official figures,” Taiwan News reported.

“On late Saturday evening, the Tencent webpage showed confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus in China as standing at 154,023, ten times the official figure at the time…Most ominously, the death toll listed was 24,589, vastly higher than the 300 officially listed that day,” the report claimed.

When asked to comment on the report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing online on Thursday that “we have noted some rumours and lies on this epidemic, which are worse than the virus itself”.

“You may have noted that even WHO Director-General has repeatedly called on people to not believe in rumours or spreading them. In some countries, relevant departments have been stepping up efforts to bring to justice to those creating and spreading rumours,” she said.

China is acting with openness, transparency and a high sense of responsibility, Hua said, adding that the government has been sharing information in a timely manner, enhancing international cooperation.

(With PTI inputs)

Courtesy : DNA

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