But he was told by police to "stop making false comments" and was investigated for "spreading rumours".News of his death was met with an intense outpouring of grief on Chinese social media site Weibo - but this quickly turned into anger. There had already been accusations against the government of downplaying the severity of the virus - and initially trying to keep it secret.
Dr Li's death has fuelled this further and triggered a conversation about the lack of freedom of speech in China. The country's anti-corruption body has now said it will open an investigation into "issues involving Dr Li". The Chinese government has previously admitted "shortcomings and deficiencies" in its response to the virus, which has now killed 636 people and infected 31,161 in mainland China.