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Li Wenliang, a doctor in China who was allegedly detained for warning others about the coronavirus before he himself was sickened by the illness, has died. His death was confirmed during a World Health Organization (WHO) press briefing on Thursday.
“We’re very sad to hear of the loss of Dr. Li Wenliang,” WHO officials said, before adding that it was too soon to say whether the outbreak was reaching a peak.
Li Wenliang had claimed that he shared his concerns about the virus in a private chat with other medical students before he was detained by authorities.
Li, who according to the BBC was a 34-year-old ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, had claimed that in late December he shared his concerns via private chat with medical school graduates after several patients exhibited symptoms similar to SARS before he was visited and warned by authorities.
He was then summoned to Public Security Bureau where he was forced to sign a letter stating that he made false comments about the virus, the BBC reported. Authorities later apologized.
Shortly after, he began coughing and developed a fever that landed him in the hospital for several days. On Jan. 30, he tested positive for the virus.
News of his Feb. 6 death first began circulating Thursday on social media and health blogs in China. It is not known if Li had any underlying health complications that may have impacted the severity of his illness.
The novel coronavirus has sickened more than 28,000 worldwide and resulted in at least 563 deaths. About 99 percent of cases have occurred in mainland China, although two deaths have been reported outside the country including in the Philippines and Hong Kong.