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Ai Fen

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Aì Fēn 艾芬

“If I had seen this day coming, I would have said it everywhere” (CDT)

Dr. Ai Fen is the director of the emergency department at the Central Hospital of Wuhan. In December 2019, Dr. Ai became one of the first doctors to encounter patients infected of the then-unknown virus of COVID-19. She sounded the alarm by sharing a diagnostic report on WeChat showing a patient with SARS-like pneumonia. The report would soon after be shared by her colleague Dr. Li Wenliang and seven other medical workers who were branded “rumormongers” and admonished by the Chinese government. (Dr. Li died on February 7, 2020 after contracting the disease from a patient.)

In an interview with Rénwù 人物 (People) Magazine, Ai Fen detailed her own censure by the hospital authorities for sharing the report. Dr. Ai expressed regret for staying silent about the epidemic after being censured by the authority. “If I had seen this day coming, I would have said it everywhere, criticism or no,” she said, words that became a meme signifying digital disobedience in China. The interview, titled “The Whistle-Giver” (Fā shàozi de rén 发哨子的人), was quickly deleted from social media. Netizens then took turns to preserve the story by translating it into multiple languages and codes.

According to her Weibo, as of November 2020 Dr. Ai continues to work as the director of the emergency department in her hospital.

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