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Coronavirus: Death of whistleblower doctor causes anger in China

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The Chinese doctor punished for raising the alarm at the appearance of the new coronavirus succumbed to the epidemic on Friday, releasing a flood of anger as the toll continues to rise.

Two weeks after the de facto quarantine of Hubei, the province where viral pneumonia appeared, the epidemic infected 31,161 people in mainland China, among them 636 died, according to a last official report.

In the rest of the world, 240 cases of contamination have been confirmed in around 30 countries and territories, including two fatal, in Hong Kong and the Philippines. Hundreds of tourists aboard three liners are stranded in Asia after the virus appeared on board.

While the trail of a bat virus seems to be confirmed, Chinese scientists have announced that the pangolin, a small mammal, could be the “intermediate host” having, last, transmitted the infectious agent to the ‘man.

But the epidemic mainly took a political turn on Friday with the death overnight of Doctor Li Wenliang, a doctor from Wuhan who had given the alert at the end of December after the virus appeared in the capital of Hubei.

– Summoned by the police –

Like others, he was summoned after his revelations by the police, who accused him of spreading rumors. He is now a national hero in the face of local officials accused of hiding the beginnings of the epidemic.

“It was a hero who raised the alarm at the cost of his life,” writes one of his colleagues from Wuhan on the Weibo online network.

“Let all these officials who fatten themselves up with public money perish in the snow,” carried an Internet user, in a comment promptly deleted by the censors.

Doctor Li, only 34 years old, died at the Central Hospital of the city cut off from the world since January 23 with its 11 million inhabitants.

An ophthalmologist, Doctor Li contracted the disease while treating a patient.

Responding quickly to popular anger, the central government announced the opening of an investigation into “the circumstances surrounding Doctor Li Wenliang, as reported by the masses” and the dispatch of a team to the scene anti-corruption investigators.

Rarely, the Supreme Court had already rehabilitated in late January in an article eight whistleblowers, who had tried to warn the population at the start of the epidemic.

– Xi reassures Trump –

The young doctor’s death illustrates the chaotic situation in Wuhan hospitals, overwhelmed by the influx of patients. A senior provincial official admitted on Thursday that medical personnel lacked masks and coveralls to protect themselves from the virus.

The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Friday that the world was facing “a chronic lack of personal protective equipment”.

The death of Doctor Li seemed to plunge the regime’s apparatus into stupor.

Public media such as national television CCTV and the daily newspaper Global Times initially announced his death on Thursday evening, before removing this information from social networks.

President Xi Jinping, who has appeared relatively withdrawn since the start of the epidemic, assured his side on Friday to his American counterpart Donald Trump, by telephone, that his country was “fully capable” of defeating the coronavirus.

He also called on the United States to respond “reasonably” to the crisis, while Washington has barred foreigners entering China from entering its territory, state media reported.

Trump has “expressed confidence in China’s strength and resilience,” according to the White House.

– Cruise ships in the harbor –

Many countries in the world have increased restrictions on the entry of people from China and advised against travel to this country.

Others continued to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan. Canada was thus to receive during the day a plane repatriating nearly 180 of its nationals.

Distressing situation: thousands of travelers and crew members are detained on two cruise ships in Asia.

Off Japan, the Diamond Princess has been under quarantine since Tuesday after the confirmation of 61 cases on board. Some 3,700 people are cloistered in their cabin.

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