As the torrent of outrage built up overnight, the government in Beijing turned to a familiar tool — censorship — as it sought to prevent the already staggering public health crisis from taking a volatile turn.
“He was an ordinary figure, but a symbol,” said Zhang Lifan, an independent historian in Beijing. “If it weren’t for the epidemic and nobody could leave their home, there would likely be demonstrations right now. Officials are absolutely concerned.”
Li’s fame skyrocketed in recent days after he disclosed that after police released him in January, he immediately returned to work at Wuhan Central Hospital and contracted the virus from patients. He fell ill Jan. 10 and three weeks later, at age 34, became one of the 710-plus Chinese to succumb to the disease.
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