WUHAN, China (KRON) – Dr. Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who claimed he had warned the public of the coronavirus in the early days of its outbreak but was silenced by local police, has died of the virus in Wuhan, several state media reports confirm to CNN.
Li was hospitalized on Jan. 12 after he contracted the virus from a patient and was confirmed to have the coronavirus on Feb. 1.
The World Health Organization tweeted it was “deeply saddened” by Li’s passing.
We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dr Li Wenliang. We all need to celebrate work that he did on #2019nCoV – @DrMikeRyan
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) February 6, 2020
The 34-year-old doctor said in December he warned friends on WeChat about the SARS-like disease going around.
But after that, he was tracked down and questioned by Wuhan city health officials.
“I felt a little afraid, afraid I would be detained, afraid my family would worry,” Li responded.
He agreed to sign a document admitting to “spreading rumors online” and “severely disrupting social order.”
It reads, “We want you to cooperate with the police and listen to our reminder and stop the illegal act. Can you do that?”
Li answered, “Yes I can.”
Chinese state media first reported that Li was one of several whistleblowers silenced by police.
Calls for Li and the others to be vindicated grew online, and China’s Supreme Court even weighed in, criticizing the Wuhan police adding “it might have been a fortunate thing if the public had listened to this ‘rumor’ at the time, but for many including Li and his parents, it was too late.
They all contracted the coronavirus.