Story By: Lee Bullen,Sub Editor: Joseph Golder,Agency: Asia Wire Report
Chinese COVID-19 whistleblower Doctor Li Wenliang has received a posthumous ‘outstanding individual’ award two months after his untimely death in a Wuhan hospital.
The 33-year-old Wuhan Central Hospital ophthalmologist died of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the early hours of 7th February and he subsequently was hailed as a martyr.
However, as early as December 2019, the Chinese authorities had accused the doctor of spreading disinformation about a new strand of coronavirus when he was trying to warn experts about the possible extent of the outbreak.
The Chinese authorities have awarded Doctor Li Wenliang with a May 4th Medal, given to outstanding individuals and groups.
According to local media, the government issued 94 individual gongs and 34 group awards as part of the 24th national May 4th Medals.
The medals are awarded for exceptional contributions to the country, particularly by those who helped to combat COVID-19 since the outbreak.
Reports said that 34 were awarded posthumously, including Doctor Li Wenliang.
According to reports, most of the individual awards this year went to doctors, nurses and clinical care physicians while group gongs were given to medical teams which helped in Wuhan.
Doctor Li Wenliang was one of several medical experts who were arrested for passing on information related to the emergence of the virus in late December.
The whistle-blowing doctor was diagnosed with COVID-19 on 31st January and he succumbed to the virus on 7th February, prompting widespread fury towards the police and Wuhan authorities.
On December 30th, the doctor began warning colleagues of the outbreak in an article he circulated on WeChat.
Doctor Li and several colleagues were taken to the Zhongnan Road police station and he was eventually let off with a written warning.
He was also reprimanded by bosses at Wuhan Central Hospital for circulating his concerns about the potential outbreak which quickly became a reality around the world.
Following the doctor’s death, Chinese citizens paid tribute to him and some activists even blew whistles outside the hospital.
His death also sparked calls from academics who want more freedom of speech in the country, adding that outbreak could have been better contained if the doctor was in a position to freely inform colleagues of the virus’ emergence.
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