February 6 (UPI) – World Health Organization spokespersons confirmed Thursday that a Chinese doctor accused by law enforcement officials in Wuhan, China of spreading rumors of a new outbreak of coronavirus in 2019, died of the virus.
Michael RyanThe Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program said that Lee told a press briefing that Lee was “at the forefront” of an outbreak of illness with his colleagues in Wuhan.
Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist, worked in a hospital in a Chinese city, the epicenter of the outbreak, when he warned his friends about the illness on social networks in late December. He told them that in his hospital there were patients with "unusual" pneumonia, which he compared with SARS.
Lee, 34 years old, had to sign a statement recognizing his "misconduct" and promising not to commit further "unlawful acts". Earlier this week, it was confirmed that he was diagnosed with a virus after assisting in the treatment of patients with this disease in his hospital.
“We must really celebrate his life and mourn his death,” Ryan said. “The last thing we need is for advanced medical workers to become victims of this disease.”
Lee's death came at a time when WHO accused the countries affected by the 2019 nKoV outbreak of hiding information about cases and sharing samples of the virus. WHO refused to quote countries by name, but pointedly – and consistently – refused to criticize the Chinese government’s processing of the outbreak information.
“We are still awaiting data from a number of countries,” Ryan said. However, “from our observation of the situation, China provided data extremely timely.”
He noted that the Chinese government has surveillance systems to detect “unusual pneumonia” and that this system quickly detected the 2019 nCoV and led to the rapid mobilization of health response teams in the city.
Representatives of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also believe that the Chinese quickly share the viral genome, which allowed them to develop an accurate diagnostic test and served as a starting point for the study of possible vaccines and drugs.
On Thursday, WHO officials said that 250,000 2019 nKoV test kits were distributed among Member States, which should help in efforts to detect the virus.
. (tagsToTranslate) Health (t) Michael Ryan