Thousands of Chinese paid tribute on Saturday on social networks to doctor Li Wenliang, one of the first to have alerted to the dangerousness of the new coronavirus which appeared in Wuhan (center), on the occasion of the first anniversary of his death from the COVID-19 in February 2020.
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Li, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, had shared with colleagues on social networks his concerns about the spread of a new coronavirus similar to SARS in December 2019. He had been summoned by the police, who had him accused of spreading “rumors”.
His death from COVID-19, which he contracted after being infected by a patient, had sparked a wave of sadness and anger in the country. Chinese Internet users criticized on this occasion the management of the crisis by the Chinese authorities, accused of having lacked transparency.
Li’s personal page on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, remains one of the few places where internet users evoke the trauma of the outbreak’s beginnings, when millions of residents of Wuhan and Hubei province had been subjected to draconian confinement.
Thousands of messages poured in on Saturday on the first anniversary of the young doctor’s death, with many Internet users recounting what had become of their own existence.
“Dr Li, the weather is great today where I live …. Everyone around me is doing their best in life, everything is fine, happy lunar new year”, wrote a user on Weibo, in a Commentary on Li’s latest post, which had elicited over a million reactions, mostly after his death.
“I thought everyone was going to forget you a year later,” added another net surfer. “I was wrong, you will live forever in the hearts of the Chinese”.
In contrast, no sign of commemoration was visible outside Wuhan Central Hospital, where flowers and photos were placed a year ago by residents paying homage to Li.
The city hosted a delegation of experts from the World Health Organization who came to investigate the origin of the pandemic. The delegation visited the Huanan seafood market, where patients were working among the first to be identified as having COVID-19.
Experts also visited the controversial Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is at the heart of conspiracy theories about the origin of the epidemic.