Published On: Thu, Feb 6th, 2020

Whistleblower doctor in critical condition from coronavirus

BEIJING (Agencies) – The Chinese doctor who tried to warn others about the Wuhan coronavirus has died, according to multiple media reports. However, Chinese government has denied such information and released a statement claiming that the doctor is alive but in critical condition.

Doctor Li Wenliang, was 34-years-old and worked in the Wuhan province. It was him who raised the alarm about this new type of coronavirus on December 30, 2019 posting in his medical school-alumni group on the Chinese messaging app WeChat, that seven patients from a local seafood market had been diagnosed with a SARS-like disease and were quarantined in his hospital.

After Doctor Li Wenliang posted the message, the Wuhan police accused him of rumor-mongering and became one of several medics targeted by police for trying to blow the whistle on the deadly virus in the early weeks of the outbreak, which to date has affected over 28,000 people and killed around 600.

Doctor Li Wenliang was hospitalized on January 12 after he contracted the virus from one of his patients, and was confirmed he was infected on February 1. Today, Thursday February 06 2020 an official for the World Health Organization expressed sadness at news of Li’s death.

Doctor Li Wenliang

“We are very sad to hear the loss of Li Wenliang,” Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director for the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies program, said when asked about the doctor’s death during a daily coronavirus press briefing in Geneva. “We should celebrate his life and mourn his death along with colleagues,” Ryan added.

The death toll and number of people infected by the Wuhan coronavirus continues to grow, with no signs of slowing despite severe quarantine and population control methods put in place in central China.

The number of confirmed cases globally stood at 28,275 as of today, 27,000 of those are still in China. The total number of cases in China grew by 15%, on the previous days. There have been 565 deaths so far, all but two of which were in China, with one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong.

In Wuhan, the largest city in Hubei, hospitals are still struggling to find enough beds for patients. A 1,500-bed hospital opened on Thursday, just days after a 1,000-bed hospital with prefabricated, wards and isolation rooms began taking patients, but senior officials said the city of 11 million was close to capacity with only 8,254 beds for 8,182 coronavirus patients. Outside mainland China, at least 230 cases have been confirmed.

On Thursday the UK confirmed a third case, while Japan confirmed another 10 infections among 3,700 passengers and crew stuck onboard the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship moored off the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo.

The 10 new cases involve four people from Japan, two each from the US and Canada, and one each from New Zealand and Taiwan, the health ministry said, adding that five were in their 70s, four in their 60s and one in their 50s.

Silenced by authorities
On the same day in December that Li messaged his friends, an emergency notice was issued by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, informing the city’s medical institutions that a series of patients from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market had an “unknown pneumonia.”

The notice warned: “Any organizations or individuals are not allowed to release treatment information to the public without authorization.”

In the early hours of December 31, Wuhan’s health authorities held an emergency meeting to discuss the outbreak. Afterwards, Li was summoned by officials at his hospital to explain how he knew about the cases, state-run newspaper Beijing Youth Daily reported.

Later that day, the Wuhan authorities announced the outbreak and alerted the World Health Organization. On January 3, Li was called to a local police station and reprimanded for “spreading rumors online” and “severely disrupting social order” over the message he sent in the chat group.

Li was forced to sign a statement acknowledging his “offence” and promising not to commit further “unlawful acts.”

He feared he was going to be detained. “My family would worry sick about me, if I lose my freedom for a few days,” he told CNN over a text message on WeChat — he was coughing too much and breathing too poorly to speak over the phone.

He was released by police, but returned to work at Wuhan Central Hospital feeling helpless. He said: “There was nothing I could do. Everything has to adhere to the official line.”

On January 10, after unwittingly treating a patient with the Wuhan coronavirus, Li started coughing and developed a fever the next day. He was hospitalized on January 12. In the following days, Li’s condition deteriorated so badly that he was admitted to the intensive care unit, and given oxygen support.


The Riviera Maya Times



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