In response to the death of Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who had been reprimanded by Wuhan police for trying to spread the first warnings about the new coronavirus, and was then diagnosed with the virus himself, Nicholas Bequelin, regional director at Amnesty International, said:
"The case of Li Wenliang sadly recalls that the concern of the Chinese authorities, namely to maintain" stability ", leads them to suppress vital information on matters of public interest.
"China must learn from the case of Li Wenliang and adopt a rights-based approach to fight the epidemic. No one should be harassed or punished for speaking out against public health issues, simply because it risks embarrassing the government. "
Li Wenliang contracted the new coronavirus while working at the Wuhan Central Hospital. In late December 2019, he sent a warning to his medical colleagues about patients with symptoms similar to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic that started in southern China in 2002. He was immediately silenced and sanctioned by local authorities for "spreading rumors".
It has since been confirmed that the virus has killed more than 600 people and infected more than 30,000 people in mainland China; the actual numbers could be much higher.
For more information on the link between coronavirus and human rights, please see the following document: Coronavirus: seven human rights impacts .