Wuhan police have apologised to the family of Chinese coronavirus whistleblower Doctor Li Wenliang following his death last month.
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.
A spokesperson for Wuhan’s public security bureau said it would withdraw the reprimand issued to the hero medic and vowed to learn lessons from the case.
The statement followed criticism from the authorities in the capital Beijing who reportedly accused the Wuhan police of mishandling the case.
The Wuhan authorities were told to hold the relevant police officials accountable and release information to the public, according to reports.
The city’s public security bureau later revealed that police station head Yang Li had been given a demerit and police officer Hu Guifeng was issued with a warning.
Doctor Li 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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