fredag 7. februar 2020

China's censors tried to control the narrative on a hero doctor's death. It backfired terribly.

Speaking to state media in late December, one of China's top medical officials hailed eight residents of Wuhan who had attempted to blow the whistle on the coronavirus outbreak now devastating the country. "In retrospect, we should highly praise them," said Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC). "They were wise before the outbreak."

One of those whistleblowers, detained for spreading "rumors" as the city's government continued to downplay the dangers of the virus, was Li Wenliang. A young doctor in one of Wuhan's main hospitals, Li posted in a private group chat about the spread of a "SARS-like" virus.

"I only wanted to remind my university classmates to be careful," he told CNN this week.
Li was speaking from his hospital bed, having succumbed to the virus himself. In the early hours of Friday morning, his condition worsened, and the 34-year-old died, becoming one of hundreds of fatalities from an outbreak that has spread well beyond Wuhan, affecting all of China and dozens of countries around the world. If Li's initial arrest was an embarrassment for the authorities, his death is a disaster.