Coronavirus pandemic

Wuhan doctor who worked with whistle-blower dies of coronavirus

Dr Hu Weifeng, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, is the sixth doctor from the hospital to have died of Covid-19.
Dr Hu Weifeng, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, is the sixth doctor from the hospital to have died of Covid-19.

BEIJING • A Wuhan doctor who worked with coronavirus whistleblower Li Wenliang has died of the virus, becoming China's first Covid-19 fatality in weeks, state media reported.

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

The 42-year-old 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. The country has reported 83,021 confirmed cases of infection.

Wuhan Central Hospital has yet to give a formal statement on Dr Hu's death.

In early February, it said some 68 staff had contracted the virus.

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

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

The death of their colleague, Dr Li, in February triggered a national outpouring of grief and rage against the government.

The 34-year-old ophthalmologist, who documented his final days on social media, was reprimanded by the authorities after he warned colleagues about the coronavirus 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 have told Chinese media they were punished by the 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 the health authorities.

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

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2020, with the headline 'Wuhan doctor who worked with whistle-blower dies of virus'. Print Edition | Subscribe