The coronavirus outbreak is terrifying, and at this point we’ve lost track of the exact amount of people infected. We’re up to at least 560 deaths from coronavirus, and this morning a Chinese man named Dr. Li Wenliang was one of them.
Dr. Li Wenliang is credited as being one of the coronavirus whistleblowers. He sent out a warning about patients in his Wuhan hospital with a potential “SARS-like” disease back in December 2019, before the rest of the world had ever heard of coronavirus. At the time he was told by police to stop “this illegal activity” or he’d “be brought to justice”.
He was hospitalised himself in mid January, and on February 1st he tested positive for the disease. His death was first reported overnight, but here is where things start to get weird.
When the news of Dr. Li Wenliang’s death from coronavirus broke, the anger on Chinese social media was instant. The topics “Wuhan government owes Dr. Li Wenliang an apology,” and “I want freedom of speech,” and “We want freedom of speech,” started trending on Weibo before being censored and taken down.
Once everybody realised how angry people were that the man who had been prevented from getting the word out about coronavirus had died of it, the reporting changed. An update was sent out saying that he was actually alive, just in critical condition.
People who were at the hospital have told the BBC that that’s not quite what happened. According to them, officials came in and ordered that Dr. Li Wenliang’s body was put on life support before sending out an official report that he was alive.
This attempt to control the narrative didn’t last very long, because a couple of hours later the reporting changed once again to say that he had died.
The death of Dr. Li Wenliang is one of the defining moments of the coronavirus emergency, and he deserved a far better end than he got.
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