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Mystery surrounds death of Chinese doctor who warned of Covid-19 pandemic


New Delhi: The death of a China-based ophthalmologist who had warned his colleagues about initial COVID-19 infections in early 2020 became more complicated after the latest report by the US-based media outlet, The New York Times, revealed a discrepancy in the doctor’s death date. Dr Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old doctor from Wuhan, died in February of a COVOID-19 infection. Dr Li died on February 7 at 2:58 a.m., according to the hospital at 4 a.m., but conflicting messages about Li’s condition had surfaced on media outlets since February 6, when he went into cardiac arrest at around 7:20 p.m. According to The New York Times, some media outlets published the information, which was later removed.

Life Times which is a state-run publication reported that he died at 9:30 p.m. on February 7, while another reported that he died at 10:40 p.m. on the same day. The New York Times’ Visual Investigations team highlighted several aspects of Dr Li’s hospital stay in an exclusive interview with one of his colleagues. “I think Dr Li Wenliang had already died by the time I saw him around 9 pm on February 6,” said Li’s colleague during the interview. “They dragged their feet for so long over the announcement. It`s like the hospital did not treat us as human beings,” he states.

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In China, Li was widely regarded as a heroic truth-teller. He had been punished by the authorities for attempting to warn others about the virus, only to become severely ill as a result of it. He would go on to become China’s most famous pandemic fatality weeks later. According to The New York Times, he was 34 years old.

In early 2020, the virus was rapidly spreading in Wuhan, China, where the pandemic first took hold. On January 12, Dr Li arrived at the hospital with a fever, a lung infection, and other symptoms. According to several doctors who reviewed his medical records for The Times, Dr Li was seriously ill by the third day and required oxygen support. “He was infected with an early variant of the virus, so the illness started acutely, its course was life-threatening and it developed very fast,” said Dr Wu Yuanfei, a virologist at UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts, according to The New York Times.

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A little more than a week into Li’s hospitalisation, his doctors wrote that he was struggling mentally and diagnosed him with depression. However, on February 5, Li’s condition deteriorated dramatically. According to The New York Times, by the morning of February 6, doctors had written in the progress notes that Dr Li was at risk of multiple organ failure. I went into cardiac arrest around 7:20 p.m. on February 6.

(Inputs from ANI)