Chinese doctor who tried to alert others about coronavirus dies from disease aged 34

7 February 2020, 00:36 | Updated: 7 February 2020, 00:41

Li Wenliang has died from coronavirus at the age of 34
Li Wenliang has died from coronavirus at the age of 34. Picture: PA

A Chinese doctor who tried to warn others about coronavirus has died in hospital aged just 34 after contracting the disease, China's state media has reported.

Li Wenliang, who was one of eight people who tried to alert authorities to the deadly flu-like virus but was reprimanded by police, lost his life to the disease today.

Li sent a message around his medical school alumni group saying that seven patients from a local seafood market had been diagnosed with a SARS-like illness and were under quarantine in hospital.

Li told friends to warn their loved ones, but his messages went viral. "When I saw them circulating online, I realized that it was out of my control and I would probably be punished," Li said.

He was then targeted by police for trying to expose the virus in the early stages of the outbreak.

Dr Li died at 9.30pm local time in hospital. According to social media, he leaves his pregnant wife, who also contracted the disease.

Separately, Chinese authorities confirmed that coronavirus was today found in a baby just 36 hours after its birth, China's official media said.

The baby born on Sunday in Wuhan is China's youngest case of the illness.

Only a handful of children have come down with the new coronavirus, which has been most severe in older people.

Zeng Lingkong, director of neonatal diseases at Wuhan Children's Hospital, said the mother had tested positive before birth and the baby was separated from her immediately after its birth.

Zeng said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV that other mothers gave birth to babies who tested negative, so it is still unclear if the virus can be transmitted in the womb.

Zeng said the possibility "needs further study".