Chinese public mourns death of doctor who raised early alarm on coronavirus dies

Li Wenliang

The Chinese doctor who gave the public a heads up about the outbreak of the corona virus before it was recongnized officially by the health authorities died of the same virus just yesterday, this ordeal did not sit well with most of the citizens of China, as it triggered a wave of public mourning and disappointments. Some of the citizens went ahead to share their condolences to the family of the deceased as well as express their disappointments in the Chinese government in some feats of anger on various social media platforms.

Li Wenliang, who works as an ophthalmologist in a hospital in Wuhan, china, became a public figure during the epidemic, few days after he announced that he was among the eight persons criticised by Wuhan’s police department for spreading rumors about the corona virus last month.
The news about the death of the chinese doctor Li, became the most viewed topic on China’s micro blogging site in just one night, having an estimated number of over 1.5 billion views, the death of the Chinese doctor was also the main topic of discussion in private WeChat messaging groups, where a number of persons expressed their outrage and sadness on the issue.

Some social media platforms in china described the chinese doctor as a hero and his actions laudable as he was willing to inform the public about the epidemic. Other commentators and platforms posted photos and poems that eulogized the dead doctor, saluting him as a man of integrity. The WHO said that the entire organisation was deeply grieved to hear of his passing and that they sincerely hope he is in a better place.
“Light a candle and pay your respects to a hero,” said a pundit at Weibo. “You were our beam of light in our darkest hour.”

But there were rumors that discussions of the death of the chinese doctor on social media was being concealed, especially those posts that deliberately derogated and blamed the chinese government.
Topics like “the Wuhan government owes doctor Li Wenliang an apology” and “we demand a free speech”, that temporarily trended on Weibo Thursday night, had no search results by the following day.
It waa rumored that the reports of Li’s death that became public information before midnight according to China’s local time on state media was deleted almost immediately after.

A college professor of international journalism and Communication at Beijing Foreign Studies University, by the name of Zhan Jian, called on his Weibo account for the law to shield heroes like Li.
He commented in his post that It would undoubtedly “protect those who have that innate and unbiased sense of right and wrong in speaking truthful words to the masses and revealing the truth”.

The hospital, where Li worked, which was located in wuhan china, quoted on its Weibo account that Li died at exactly 2.58 am china local time on Friday.
The 34 year old deceased doctor told a group of doctors on WeChat, a Chinese messaging platform, on last year december, that there has been seven confirmed cases of a disease that resembles the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and it has been traced back to a seafood market in Wuhan, where the virus was believed to have originated from.

He went as far as to share a picture of a test result of a patient’s sample, which contained and confirmed the presense of a copy of the “SARS-like” coronavirus in the sample. The screenshot of the WeChat conversation was seen and its veracity was confirmed by the the Reuters.
A letter which was sent to Li from the Wuhan police bureau on the 3rd of january said he had “successfully caused mass hysteria and disrupted social order” with his messages on WeChat.

He was also requested to sign the letter as a rule to desist from such illegal acts immediately, and failure to do so would attract serious consequences from the law enforcement agencies. Li later admitted on Weibo on the 1st of February that he had tested positive for the corona virus. Reuters were unable to reach his friends and family.
The heroic doctor then died of the virus after several unsuccessful attempts to save his life. Many law enforcement agencies and law firms expresed their sincerest condonlences and heart warming gratitudes to the deceased doctor.

They also paid tribute and commended his actions of how he stood firm on the front lines to battle the epidemic.
The way the authorities treated the doctor before his death brought back some painful memories of how china was accused of covering up a major epidemic (SARS) in 2003. An unknown virus that was believed to have originated from markets of guangdong province before migrating to major cities of china and other countries.

A senior research analyst and China Media Bulletin Director at Freedom House, by the name of Sarah Cook, said that the public saddened disposition over Li’s death looked “rampant and unified”, although we are yet to see how big it’s effect could be, she then made reference to another national tragedy, which was the high speed rail crash in 2008. The tragedy still instigated a similar public response but was quickly petered out.
China has so far reported more than 600 confirmed deaths and 30,000 cases of people with the corona virus. The Chinese government has further declared to be open minded and transparent when dealing with the epidemic.