Widow of Chinese doctor who first warned of COVID-19 gives birth to son: Report

WUHAN: The widow of Chinese doctor and coronavirus whistleblower Dr Li Wenliang gave birth to their son on Friday (Jun 12), about four months after his demise, local media reported.

“Are you seeing this in heaven? The last gift you gave me was born today. I will love and take care of him,” Ms Fu Xuejie, wife of the late doctor, wrote on Chinese messaging app WeChat, according to Lizhi News. 

Dr Li was working as an ophthalmologist in the virus epicentre city of Wuhan, China when he observed patients with symptoms similar to the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The death of doctor Li Wenliang has sparked rare calls for greater freedom of speech in China

The death of doctor Li Wenliang has sparked rare calls for greater freedom of speech in China AFP/STR

The 34-year-old sent out a warning to colleagues on Dec 30, but was later among eight whistleblowers summoned by police for “rumour-mongering”.

He contracted the disease while treating a patient and eventually died of the virus in early February.

READ: Novel coronavirus kills Chinese doctor who first warned of it

After Dr Li’s death, Ms Fu was wracked with grief and suffered from low blood pressure and bleeding, Lizhi News reported.

She had to be temporarily hospitalised to protect her unborn child. When her condition stabilised, she returned to her mother’s home in Zaoyang city to give birth.

Ms Fu reportedly described Dr Li as a gentle husband and father. Her family had to initially hide the news of his death from their other son by telling him his father was overseas, she added. 

Dr Li’s death sparked grief and outrage on Chinese social media, where netizens hailed him as a martyr.

“He is a hero who warned others with his life,” one user, an orthopaedic surgeon, had written on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Whistleblowing doctor Li Wenliang's death sparked a rare outpouring of grief and anger on

Whistleblowing doctor Li Wenliang’s death sparked a rare outpouring of grief and anger on social media over the government’s handling of the crisis AFP/Anthony WALLACE

READ: Mainland China reports 7 new confirmed, 1 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases

After warning his colleagues, Dr Li was reprimanded by police for spreading “illegal and false” information.

Dr Li said he was told to sign a letter accusing him of making “false comments” that had “severely disturbed the social order”.

Li Wenliang: the virus whistleblower

Timeline of events leading to the death of coronavirus whistleblower Chinese doctor Li Wenliang. (Graphic: AFP/Gal Roma) 

To date, the number of COVID-19 cases in mainland China stands at 83,064, while the death toll is 4,634.

Globally, more than 7.52 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus and 420,383 have died, according to a Reuters tally on Friday.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

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