The Obituary of Li Wenliang (7-2-2020)
Since he shared every passing observation online, it was not surprising that on December 30th he put up a post about an odd cluster of pneumonia cases at the hospital. They were unexplained, but the patients were in quarantine, and they had all worked in the same place, the pungent litter-strewn warren of stalls that made up the local seafood market. Immediately this looked like person-to-person transmission to him, even if it might have come initially from bats, or some other delicacy. Immediately, too, it raised the spectre of the sars virus of 2002-03 which had killed more than 700 people. He therefore decided to warn his private WeChat group, all fellow alumni from Wuhan University, to take precautions. He headed the post: “Seven cases of sars in the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market”. That was his mistake.
The trouble was that he did not know whether it was actually sars. He had posted it too fast. In an hour he corrected it, explaining that although it was a coronavirus, like sars, it had not been identified yet. But to his horror he was too late: his first post had already gone viral, with his name and occupation undeleted, so that in the middle of the night he was called in for a dressing down at the hospital, and January 3rd he was summoned to the police station.