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Coronavirus Whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang Wanted Transparency More Than Justice for Himself

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Coronavirus Whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang Wanted Transparency More Than Justice for Himself


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Coronavirus whistleblower’s final interview before passing away from the disease one week later. 

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Dr. Li Wenliang, who was an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, had tried to raise alarm about the new coronavirus outbreak in late December, 2019 – weeks before authorities disclosed the full threat to the public – but was silenced by police for “spreading false rumors.” Li later contracted the disease and passed away on January 6, 2020. His death sparked nationwide grief and outrage. Anger and frustration over the Chinese government’s cover-up of the virus, and the inadequate measures taken early on to stop the spread, have reached a boiling point. Calls for accountability, transparency and freedom of speech have flooded Weibo and WeChat, overwhelming China’s internet censors. This article from news outlet Caixin is an interview with Dr. Li, published six days before his death. Caixin has since updated the article to address his passing. 


Dr. Li Wenliang warned his classmates about a new coronavirus when cases were discovered at his hospital.

On December 30, 2019, Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, sent a message to a WeChat group comprising around 150 of Li’s classmates from medical school. The message said that seven cases of SARS had been discovered originating from a fruit and seafood market in Wuhan, and the patients were being quarantined at his hospital. On the same day, Wuhan’s Health Commission issued an alert to medical personnel detailing protocol on the treatment of recent cases of pneumonia from unknown causes. The alert emphasized that no entity or individual should post any public information about these cases without permission. 

[Editors Note: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious viral respiratory disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), also known as “novel coronavirus.” Reports in December 2019, from Wuhan, China, first cited the disease, which has spread globally, resulting in the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic that affects people and businesses ...

About the Authors

Xin Jianxin, Gao Yu, Bao Zhiming and Ding Gang are coronavirus frontline reporters for Caixin, one of China’s leading and most trusted news outlets that often pushes the nation’s censorship boundaries. 

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