by WorldTribune Staff, April 5, 2020
A Chinese doctor who was one of the first to publicly warn about the coronavirus has gone missing, sparking fears that she has been detained by Chinese authorities, reports say.
The doctor, Ai Fen, had pointed out cases of the virus to colleagues at Wuhan Central Hospital, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. Ai claimed her bosses tried to silence her early warnings.
The whereabouts of Ai, who is head of the emergency department at Wuhan Central Hospital, are now unknown, 60 Minutes Australia reported.
“Just two weeks ago the head of Emergency at Wuhan Central hospital went public, saying authorities had stopped her and her colleagues from warning the world,” the outlet tweeted. “She has now disappeared.”
Soon after the program aired, Ai posted a cryptic message to her page on the Chinese social media site Weibo.
“A river. A bridge. A road. A clock chime,” read the post, coupled with a Wuhan cityscape photo.
Nearly two weeks earlier, she had posted, “Thank you for your care and love. I’m fine at the moment and I’m still working.”
And on Wednesday, she shared a post captioned, “Happy April Fools Day,” showing her wearing a lab coat and mask, apparently at work at the hospital.
RFA noted that detainees in custody in China have been known to either update their own social media accounts under authorities’ orders, or police may do so after gaining access to their devices.
In a now-deleted essay published in China’s People (Renwu) magazine titled “The one who supplied the whistle,” Ai detailed her boss’ efforts to silence her, RFA reported.
In the article, Ai said the reprimand came after she took a photo of a patient’s test results and circled the positive “SARS coronavirus” result in red.
China has been accused of attempting to cover up the coronavirus outbreak before the crisis escalated.
On Dec. 30, Dr. Li Wenliang — who worked with Ai and who died in early February — sent out a warning over the WeChat messaging app advising fellow med school grads to wear protective clothing to avoid infection after several patients from a local seafood market exhibited symptoms similar to SARS.
His attempts to sound an early alarm were denounced by authorities for “rumormongering.”
In the interview prior to her alleged disappearance, Ai admitted “feeling regretful about not speaking out more” after four of her colleagues, including Dr. Li, had contracted the virus and died while fighting the outbreak.
“If I had known what would have happened today, I wouldn’t have cared about the reprimand. I would have told whoever and wherever I want,” said Dr Ai.
The Daily Mail noted that officials have warned that infection and death totals being reported by the Chinese regime are likely to be wrong, with locals in the epicenter of Wuhan suggesting the true tolls could be at least ten times higher.