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Coronavirus doctor Li Wenliang death: China censors anger, speech

The death of a Chinese whistleblower doctor who was punished for trying to warn about the coronavirus has triggered a national backlash over freedom of speech and censorship that has overwhelmed official online attempts to contain or remove the expressions of anger.

The swell of indignation that washed across Chinese social media platforms began with conflicting reports over the death of Li Wenliang, 34, an ophthalmologist in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

Wuhan Central Hospital, where he had worked, finally confirmed that he had died of the virus early Friday, apparently after he contracted it from a patient.

Li had already become a national hero for alerting fellow doctors Dec. 30 in an online post about the emergence of a SARS-like illness, warning them to wear protective clothing to avoid infection. 

Li, along with seven others in Wuhan, were later arrested by local security police on charges of spreading rumors and forced to sign a document disavowing his statements and agreeing to quit speaking out.

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