Wuhan Doctor ‘Disappears’ After Alerting Medics About Coronavirus
A Wuhan doctor who was among the first set of doctors to alert other medics about the spread of coronavirus has disappeared, sparking concerns that she has been detained for speaking up, reports suggest.
The doctor identified as Dr Ai Fen said she faced ‘unprecedented, extremely harsh reprimanding’ by officials at Wuhan Central Hospital after she shared a picture of a patient report labelled ‘SARS coronavirus’.
The image was widely circulated and made its way to the whistle-blower Li Wenliang who raised the alarm about the virus, but later died after contracting the disease that has now killed more than 41,000 people worldwide. Dr Li was initially also reprimanded by authorities for ‘illegally spreading untruthful information online’.
Dr Ai in an interview with a Chinese magazine criticized hospital management for dismissing the early warnings of the coronavirus but has not been seen since the interview, 60Minutes Australia reported.
After the interview aired, the doctor on her Weibo account – a social media platform similar to Twitter – shared a picture with the caption; A river. A bridge. A road. A clock chime, RFA reports.
Her rumored disappearance comes after criticism was levvied at the Chinese government for lying and covering up key information during virtually every stage of its coronavirus response.
Reports say Beijing initially tried to cover up the outbreak by punishing medics who discovered it, denying it could spread person-to-person and delaying a lockdown of affected regions.
Then, once the virus began spreading, the Communist Party began censoring public information about it and spread disinformation overseas – including suggesting that US troops could have been the initial carriers.
Even now, prominent politicians have warned that infection and death total being reported by the regime are likely to be wrong, as Wuhan locals in the epicenter of the virus suggests that the true death tolls could be ten times higher than what is reported by Chinese media.
In the interview prior to her alleged dissapearance, Dr Ai admitted ‘feeling regretful about not speaking out more’ after four of her colleagues, including Dr Li, had contracted the virus and died while fighting the outbreak.
Dr. Ai said;
If I had known what would have happened today, I wouldn’t have cared about the reprimand. I would have told whoever and wherever I want.
The interview was posted but was quickly retracted from social media by its publisher People (Renwu) Magazine.
On 30 December, Dr Ai received a patient’s report labelled ‘SARS coronavirus’.
According toWorld Health Organisation, the SARS epidemic had 17 years ago infected more than 8,000 people worldwide and killed over 800.
The medic circled the word ‘SARS’ and sent a picture of the report to one of her former classmates and a group chat within her department.
Dr Ai said she also alerted hospital authorities about the case, stating that;
Later that evening, the stuff was shared all over the place with screenshots of the report bearing my red circle.
These platforms included the chatting group, which Li Wenliang shared the information with. I thought something bad is going to happen.
Two days later, the Wuhan medic was summoned by the head of the hospital’s disciplinary inspection committee, Daily Mail reports.
Dr. Ai said she faced ‘unprecedented, extremely harsh reprimanded’ and was accused of ‘spreading rumours as a professional’ by the hospital’s officials.
She expressed that she was in shock, saying;
What did I do wrong? Knowing the fact that a significant virus has been found on a patient, how can I not tell when another doctor asks about it?
Ophthalmologist Li Wenliang was among eight people who shared Dr Ai’s picture before being reprimanded by police and accused of spreading ‘fake news’ for warning the public of ‘SARS at a Wuhan seafood market’ on social media.
Three other doctors who worked along with late heroic whistle-blower Dr Li Wenliang have also died of the disease after contracting it while fighting the outbreak.
Dr Ai before her alleged disappearance said she doesn’t think of herself as a whistle-blower but “the one handing out the whistles.”
She added that;
This incident has shown that everyone needs to have their own thoughts because someone has to step up to speak the truth. The world needs different kinds of voices.