A whistleblowing Chinese doctor who tried to issue first warnings about the deadly coronavirus outbreak has died.

Li Wenliang, 34, was declared dead on Friday morning (local time) after “emergency treatment” at a hospital in Wuhan, the Global Times reported.

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This follows hours of confusion over Li’s fate with earlier reports of his death attracting sympathy for him and scorn for the authoritarian government.

Global Times which is among the heavily controlled state run newspapers has since retracted the Thursday report.

Li is believed to have contracted the virus while working at Wuhan Central Hospital.

“We profoundly regret and mourn this death,” the Wuhan City central hospital said in a brief statement on its official social media account.

He had sent out a warning to fellow medics on December 30 2019 but police warned him against “making false comments”.

Seven patients were in isolation and the disease symptoms reminded him of Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome), he said.

He urged colleagues to wear protective clothing at work.

Four days later he was summoned to the local public security bureau, accused of “making false comments” and disturbing the social order.

He was warned against discussing the disease, or he would be “brought to justice”.

The virus has killed more than 560 people and infected 28,000 in China.

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