Late coronavirus whistle-blower medic Li Wenliang is awarded by China

Chinese coronavirus whistle-blower who was punished for sounding the alarm over the outbreak is awarded the title of ‘advanced individual’ by Beijing after he died of the disease

  • Dr Li Wenliang, 34, died of the virus last month after getting it from a patient 
  • He had been accused of spreading ‘fake news’ for warning over the epidemic
  • His death caused an uproar after his hospital denied reports of it from media
  • China today gave the late medic the honourable title of ‘an advanced individual’
  • His family was paid £90,000 after Beijing ruled his death a ‘workplace injury’

A ‘heroic’ Chinese doctor who was punished for sounding the alarm over the coronavirus outbreak before it spread has been awarded by Beijing after he died of the deadly disease.

Dr Li Wenliang, 34, lost his life to the killer infection last month having contracting it from a patient.

His death caused an uproar among the country’s social media users who criticised their government of controlling freedom of speech and trying to cover up Dr Li’s passing.


Dr Li Wenliang, 34, who died of the coronavirus last month after being punished for sounding the alarm over the outbreak has been given the honourable title of ‘an advanced individual’

China’s central government today gave the late medic the honourable title of ‘an advanced individual’ to praise his works in fighting the virus.

‘[Our country’s medical workers] consider assuring people’s life safety and bodily health as the highest mission, carry forward the heroic spirit of unstoppable resilience, face danger fearlessly and rush to the front line of the control and prevention of the epidemic without a doubt…’ an official notice praised while announcing the decision. 

Dr Li’s name was buried in a list of 472 medical workers who were also honoured for their contributions during the health crisis. Among them, 34 have died.

Officials also declared 113 medical teams as ‘advanced collectives’.

‘[We hope] the honoured collectives and individuals will cherish the honour, make unremitting efforts and deliver new contributions,’ said the statement jointly issued by the National Health Commission, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security as well as National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

A woman cries while paying tribute to Dr Li in front of Wuhan Central Hospital on February 7

Flowers are put in front of Wuhan Central Hospital by Wuhan mourners on February 7 after the hospital declared Dr Li dead. The card that comes with the flowers carries a message reading ‘the long night is about to arrive. I, from today, will begin to be on watch as long as I am alive’

Dr Li, an ophthalmologist, caught the public’s attention after he was reprimanded by police and accused of spreading ‘fake news’ for warning on social media of ‘SARS at a Wuhan seafood market’ on December 30.

Dr Li’s post came two weeks before coronavirus broke out in the city of 14 million which has been locked down since January 23.

He was among eight doctors who were dubbed ‘rumourmongers’ by Wuhan authorities and investigated.

His original messages, sent to about 150 medics on popular messaging platform WeChat, read: ‘Seven confirmed SARS cases were found in Huanan Fruit and Seafood Market.’

It continued: ‘[The patients] were in quarantine in the Houhu Branch of our hospital.’

He announced on January 31 through social media that he was hospitalised on January 12 after treating one patient who had coronavirus but did not show any symptoms.

One day later, he said he was tested positive for coronavirus.

Mourners pay their respect to the doctor during a vigil ceremony in Hong Kong on February 7

A person wearing a mask attends a vigil for Dr Li in Hong Kong on February 7 after he died

Dr Li, an ophthalmologist from the Wuhan Central Hospital, was among eight doctors who were dubbed ‘rumourmongers’ by Wuhan authorities and investigated by police. They had sent warning messages on social media about ‘SARS’ in a market days before the outbreak began

Dr Li’s original messages, sent to about 150 medics on popular messaging platform WeChat, read: ‘Seven confirmed SARS cases were found in Huanan Fruit and Seafood Market. Pictured, people mourn Dr Li in Hong Kong, China, on February 7

Dr Li was pronounced dead in the wee hours of February 7 by his workplace, Wuhan Central Hospital, hours after it had denied reports from state media of the medic’s passing.

The denial, or cover-up as some accused, sparked an outpouring of anger from the Chinese people who took their outrage to the Chinese social media platforms.

‘He wasn’t allowed to speak. He wasn’t even allowed to die,’ wrote one person on popular messaging app WeChat as she commented on a circulating notice which allegedly instructed all media outlets to suppress the coverage of the passing of Dr Li Wenliang.

‘Dr Li Wenliang was only allowed to “die” after most web users had gone to bed,’ condemned another person on Twitter-like Weibo.

Dr Li’s death was first reported by state newspaper Global Times at around 9:30pm local time on February 6 through Weibo.

The post gathered tens of thousands of comments in a matter of minutes, but was later removed by the newspaper for unspecified reasons.

The coronavirus has killed at least 3,301 people and infected more than 96,440 worldwide

Outside China, more than 70 nations are now battling the contagion, with South Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran among the worst-affected. The picture shows two tourists wearing face masks while holding a tourist map in Piazza Duomo in Milan, one of the worst-hit cities, on March 5

A health worker is pictured taking the body temperature of an Iraqi passenger returning from Iran, which has the second highest death tolls, at Najaf International Airport on March 5

Another two people have tested positive for coronavirus in New York City, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 13. A woman in a mask is pictured on the New York City subway

The Wuhan Central Hospital then claimed that Dr Li was in critical condition and still being revived.

Within half an hour of the announcement, the hospital received nearly 500,000 comments on its social media post, many of them from people hoping Li would pull through.

The hospital declared his death at 3:48am local time on February 7.

His family was subsequently paid £90,000 after Beijing ruled his death a ‘workplace injury’.

There were similar conflicting reports over the death of Dr Liu Zhiming, who was the head of Wuhan Wuchang Hospital and died of the coronavirus at the age of 51 on February 18.

At least 26 Chinese medical workers have died while working to curb the virus outbreak, which started late last year in the central city of Wuhan.

Among them, 13 lost their lives after contracting the infection on the line of duty, according to Chinese news outlet Caixin.

So far, the coronavirus has killed at least 3,301 people and infected more than 96,440 worldwide.

Outside China, more than 70 nations are now battling the contagion, with South Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran among the worst-affected.

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