Doctor who warned about new coronavirus in China has died

Li Wenliang is the Chinese doctor who warned authorities about the new coronavirus.

A Chinese doctor, Li Wenliang, who was reprimanded by police after warning colleagues about a new respiratory disease emerging in Wuhan, has died after falling ill.

Li had been admitted to a hospital in early January and later confirmed to have the coronavirus, according to a post on his social media account. The exact cause of death wasn’t immediately known.

Li on December 30 posted in a social media group about a SARS-like illness that within weeks would explode into the coronavirus epidemic that has infected more than 25,000 people. Days after his warning, he was reprimanded by police for rumour-mongering online, and then later was given an apology, according to his social media account.

The death was reported earlier by the Global Times, a Chinese state-run media organisation, and other Chinese outlets. A person familiar with the situation confirmed the death.

“We’re very sorry to hear of the loss of any person on the front line,” said Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, at a press conference in Geneva. “We will mourn his death with our colleagues.”