Wuhan doctor at whistle-blower's hospital dies from coronavirus

Dr Hu Weifeng died on May 29 after being treated for Covid-19 and allied issues for more than four months.

BEIJING (AFP) - A Wuhan doctor who worked with coronavirus whistle-blower Dr Li Wenliang died of the virus last week, state media reported on Tuesday (June 2), becoming China's first Covid-19 fatality in weeks.

Dr Hu Weifeng, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, died last Friday after being treated for Covid-19 and allied issues for more than four months, state broadcaster CCTV said.

He is the sixth doctor from Wuhan Central Hospital to have died from the virus, which emerged in the central Chinese city late last year.

Cases have dwindled dramatically from the peak in mid-February as the country appears to have brought the outbreak largely under control.

The official death toll in the country of 1.4 billion people stands at 4,634 - well below the number of fatalities in less populous nations.

Wuhan Central Hospital has yet to give a formal statement on Dr Hu's death. In early February it said some 68 staff members had contracted the coronavirus.

Dr Hu's condition became a national concern after Chinese media showed images of him with his skin turned black due to liver damage.

Fellow doctor Yi Fan showed similar symptoms, but recovered and has since been discharged from hospital.

The death of their colleague Dr Li in February triggered a national outpouring of grief and rage against the government as he documented his final days on social media.

The 34-year-old ophthalmologist was reprimanded by the authorities after he warned colleagues about the virus in late December.

Beijing has since named him a national martyr, but suppressed much of the dissent and criticism sparked by his death.

Other medical whistle-blowers at Wuhan Central Hospital - including emergency unit director Dr Ai Fen - have told Chinese media they were punished by authorities for speaking out.

China has not released a complete figure of the number of medical worker deaths from Covid-19, but at least 34 medics have been awarded posthumous honours by health authorities.

In February the National Health Commission said some 3,387 health workers had been infected.

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