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Chinese doctor who raised alarm on coronavirus dies from the illness

Li Wenliang tried to warn others of the new virus in December, but was reprimanded by Wuhan police. He later contracted the virus.

A Chinese doctor who was reprimanded after trying to warn his friends about the Wuhan coronavirus has died from that very illness. 

As news of Li Wenliang's death spread, confusion set in when the hospital he worked for released a statement claiming he was still alive and doctors were working to revive him. 

The hospital later announced on its Weibo account that emergency efforts were unsuccessful and confirmed that Wenliang had died. 

Friends and family of the doctor also confirmed his death to the Washington Post.

In December, Wenliang was working in Wuhan when he warned his medical school classmates in an online chat that a new illness similar to SARS had infected several patients at a hospital in the area. Li, along with seven other doctors who initially shared the information were summoned by Wuhan police and forced to sign a letter confessing to "making false comments" and essentially fear mongering.

On February 1, Li confirmed he had contracted the virus on Weibo. It is believed he contracted the virus from a patient. 

According to the Washington Post, a classmate of Li's broke the news of his passing on Weibo, where tributes poured in. “The Wuhan government owes Dr. Li Wenliang an apology,” Guan Hanfeng wrote. 

China has since reported more than 20,000 cases of the virus and more than 500 deaths.

Varying reports about whether or not the doctor was still alive varied from news outlets and global organizations. The World Health Organization initially tweeted about Dr. Li's death, but later deleted it. About an hour later, the health agency posted a screenshot of their deleted post with the explanation, "At today's #2019nCoV media briefing Dr. Mike Ryan was asked about reports that Dr Li Wenliang had passed away, and he expressed condolences. WHO has no information on the status of Dr Li." 

The country has finished building a second new hospital to isolate and treat patients. The second hospital will have 1,500 beds specially built for virus patients. It opened days after a 1,000-bed hospital with prefabricated wards and isolation rooms began taking patients.  

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Outside of China, more than 200 cases of the illness have been reported in more than two dozen countries. The U.S. has 11 confirmed cases in five states and 76 pending across 36 states. There have been no deaths in the U.S.