BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese doctor who got in trouble with authorities in the communist country for sounding an early warning about the coronavirus outbreak died after coming down with the illness Friday, a hospital reported.
The Wuhan Central Hospital said on its social media account that Dr. Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old ophthalmologist, was “unfortunately infected during the fight against the pneumonia epidemic of the new coronavirus infection.”
“We deeply regret and mourn this,” it added.
Li was reprimanded by local police for “spreading rumors” about the illness in late December, according to news reports. The outbreak, centered in Wuhan, has now infected over 28,200 people globally and killed more than 560.
The World Health Organization tweeted: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dr Li Wenliang. We all need to celebrate work that he did” on the virus.
Within a half-hour of announcing earlier Friday that Li was in critical condition, the hospital received nearly 500,000 comments on its social media post, many of them from people hoping Li would pull through. One wrote: “We are not going to bed. We are here waiting for a miracle.”
Meanwhile, a newborn became the youngest known person infected with the virus. China finished building a second new hospital Thursday to isolate and treat patients and moved people with milder symptoms into makeshift quarantine centers at sports arenas, exhibition halls and other public spaces. And testing of a new antiviral drug was set to begin on patients.