Wuhan residents remember coronavirus 'whistleblower' doctor a year after his death

By David Kirton WUHAN, China (Reuters) - A year after his death from COVID-19, residents in the Chinese city of Wuhan say they remain grateful to the 'whistleblower' doctor who first sounded the alarm about the outbreak before it received official recognition. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at a hospital in the city, became one of the most visible figures in the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan when he tried to sound the alarm about its appearance, but was reprimanded by police for 'spreading rumours.' The 34-year-old's death from the virus on Feb

Reuters February 07, 2021 00:10:39 IST
Wuhan residents remember coronavirus 'whistleblower' doctor a year after his death

Wuhan residents remember coronavirus whistleblower doctor a year after his death

By David Kirton

WUHAN, China (Reuters) - A year after his death from COVID-19, residents in the Chinese city of Wuhan say they remain grateful to the "whistleblower" doctor who first sounded the alarm about the outbreak before it received official recognition.

Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at a hospital in the city, became one of the most visible figures in the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan when he tried to sound the alarm about its appearance, but was reprimanded by police for "spreading rumours."

The 34-year-old's death from the virus on Feb. 7 led to an outpouring of public mourning and rare expressions of anger online.

Several days later Zhong Nanshan, a renowned epidemiologist, shed tears for Li in an interview with Reuters, calling him a "hero of China."

But when President Xi Jinping honoured the "heroes" of the "people's war" against the virus in September, there was no mention of Li's contribution.

While people on the streets around Li's hospital say life in the city has mostly returned to its usual rhythm, they still revere Li for his actions.

As Reuters journalists visited the area around the hospital on Saturday they were followed by two men in plainclothes who identified themselves as "hospital parking security," and local guards blocked a cameraman from filming the hospital entrance.

"He was the first to tell us about the virus," said Li Pan, 24, who owns an online store.

"He must have considered the impact would be huge, but he still raised the alarm. That was really brave," Li said.

Ji Penghui, a 34 year-old designer, said he heard about Li's warning in the early days and rushed to stock up on masks before the officials spoke openly about the virus.

"The public strongly acknowledges him, and personally, I think he should receive more official honours, rather than being treated as what he did is already in the past" Ji said.

Ji said the government made mistakes in the early stages, but it has handled it well since.

A World Health Organization team is currently in Wuhan researching the early stages of the outbreak, and is preparing to present its findings, team member Dominic Dwyer told Reuters on Friday.

The team visited the sprawling Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, thought to be where the virus first became an outbreak, which led to a pandemic that has infected over 105 million people and killed nearly 3 million worldwide.

The market site has been shut to the public since the beginning of last year.

The origins of the virus have become highly politicised, and some Chinese diplomats and state media have thrown support behind theories that the virus potentially originated in another country.

While 80-year-old Qian Wende said he does not know where the virus came from, he regards Li as a hero.

"We should be commemorating his contribution to fighting the pandemic," he said.

(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Kim Coghill)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.