China

Chinese netizens pay tribute to the doctor who tried to warn the world

PHOTO: Dr Li Wenliang

He will forever be known as a hero, but Dr Li Wenliang, the Chinese ophthalmologist who first sounded the alarm over Covid-19, was initially shut down and threatened by his government. Now, nearly 2 years after his own death from the virus, thousands of Chinese netizens have posted messages to honour the Wuhan medic who tried to warn the world.

According to a Reuters report, the messages have been posted on the second anniversary of Li discovering a pneumonia-causing virus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. On December 30, 2019, Li, who worked at a hospital in the city, caught sight of a medical report that referenced potential SARS coronavirus infections in Wuhan. He posted about the outbreak on the Weibo social media platform but his warnings were badly received by the government. He was reprimanded by the local police and accused of creating panic.

On January 12, Li was admitted to hospital, infected with Covid-19. He died on February 7, 2020. Along with the grief triggered by his death came a rare outpouring of anger at the government over its lack of transparency and its attempts to censor Li.

Nearly 2 years after his death, he is being commemorated as a hero. According to the Reuters report, Weibo is awash with candle emojis and messages of thanks to the doctor, with many posting as if talking directly to him.

“Happy new year Dr. Li, we will remember you forever.”

According to Fang Kecheng from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, people seem to feel more comfortable posting on Li’s Weibo microblog.

“Such places for anonymous expression are needed in any society, and this is especially true in today’s China.”

Since the start of the pandemic, over 285 million people worldwide have been infected with Covid-19 and 5.4 million have died.

SOURCE: Reuters

Maya Taylor

A seasoned writer, with a degree in Creative Writing. Over ten years' experience in producing blog and magazine articles, news reports and website content.