Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor from Wuhan, who was targeted by police for trying to forewarn on the deadly coronavirus virus in the early weeks of the outbreak, has died.
On 30 December, Li informed his friends who are part of his medical school alumni group on the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat about the virus and requested them to caution their loved ones privately. But within hours screenshots of his messages had gone viral -- without his name being blurred.
Li worked in the Wuhan hospital were several cases of a SARS-like illness were identified in patients who had visited a seafood market in the city.
On 3 January, Li was called to the local police station and reprimanded for "spreading rumors online" and "severely disrupting social order" over the message he sent in the chat group. The virus has since claimed at least 425 lives and sickened more than 20,000 people globally.
On 12 January, Li's health condition took a turn for the worse and he was admitted to the intensive care unit, and given oxygen support. On 1 February, he tested positive for coronavirus.
The death of Li Wenliang has caused huge anger in China. The Chinese authorities are already struggling to contain public anger over official mishandling the outbreak that has killed more than 600 people.
Despite draconian censorship rules by the state apparatus, references to his death had been viewed 270 million times on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.
The top two trending hashtags on the website were "Wuhan government owes Dr Li Wenliang and apology" and "We want freedom of speech". Both hashtags were quickly censored.
Only a handful of critical comments now remain - many of which do not directly name him - but are an indication of the mounting anger and distrust towards the Chinese government.
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