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Li Wenliang

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Lǐ Wénliàng 李文亮

Drawing of Dr. Li Wenliang (Source: Sinocism)

Dr. Li Wenliang (October 12, 1986 - February 7, 2020) was one of the first physicians to sound the alarm about the novel coronavirus that is now known as COVID-19.

Dr. Li Wenliang practiced ophthalmology at Wuhan Central Hospital. In late December 2019, Dr. Li posted to a closed WeChat group about a "SARS-like" illness originating in a wet market in the city. On January 3, two officers from the local Public Security Bureau forced Dr. Li to fingerprint a notice as agreement to cease from "publishing untrue discourse on the internet." He was also likely one of the "eight rumormongers" who were chastised on national TV. Dr. Li continued working at the hospital as the virus raged through Wuhan, and eventually contracted the disease, probably from one of his patients. From an isolation ward, Dr. Li took interviews from the press, famously telling Caixin that "I believe there should be more than one voice in a healthy society.

Dr. Li died of COVID-19 on February 7, sending waves of grief and anger through the Chinese-speaking world that were amplified by the state's initial reports that he was still undergoing treatment. A leaked photo of Dr. Li's "admonishment notice" triggered an online campaign to demand the truth from the authorities. His Weibo page has become known as China's wailing wall for the hundreds of thousands of messages posted there from his death through many months of the pandemic.

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