Jiang Yanyong, a former military surgeon who blew the whistle on Chinese authorities' cover-up of the 2003 Sars epidemic, has died aged 91. He died of pneumonia on Saturday in Beijing, family friends and Chinese-language media in Hong Kong reported. Dr Jiang was praised for saving lives after writing a letter in the early stage of the Sars crisis which revealed officials were playing down the threat. But he endured house arrest at one point for his unwavering outspokenness.
Sars infected more than 8,000 people worldwide in 2003. Of these, 774 died, according to World Health Organization (WHO) figures.
Dr Jiang had been working in a Beijing hospital in April 2003, when he was alarmed to hear the Chinese health minister telling the public there were only a handful of cases of a new deadly respiratory disease. The senior doctor said he knew more than 100 people had Sars - severe acute respiratory syndrome - in military hospital wards alone. He sent a letter exposing the lies in the official narrative to Chinese state broadcasters, who ignored it. But the letter was then leaked to foreign media who published his account in full.