There is a growing concern that Chinese authorities have detained Ai Fen, the whistleblower Wuhan doctor. Dr. Fen has gone missing after giving media interviews about her initial concerns over the coronavirus.
“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,” flagship investigative show 60 Minutes Australia reported on Sunday.
“She has now disappeared, her whereabouts unknown,” the show reported, also tweeting photos of Ai.
Soon after the show aired, Ai’s account on the Twitter-like platform Weibo sent out a single, cryptic post with a photo taken from Wuhan’s Jianghan Road.
“A river. A bridge. A road. A clock chime,” the post read, the first since March 16, when the account posted to thank everyone for their concern about Ai and to reassure them that she was back at work as usual.
Ai was earlier given a stern reprimand after sending information about the early stages of the outbreak to a group of doctors, she wrote in a now-deleted essay published in China’s People (Renwu) magazine.
Titled “The one who supplied the whistle,” the article described how Ai had been silenced by her bosses after she took a photo of a patient’s test results and circled the words “SARS coronavirus” in red.
She alerted colleagues to several cases of the virus, and eight of them were summoned by police for sharing the information. Among them was ophthalmologist Li Wenliang who later died of COVID-19.
RFA was unable to verify Ai’s whereabouts independently. Detainees in police or other official custody have been known to have their social media accounts updated, either by themselves acting under orders from the authorities, or after police gain access to their devices.
Concern over Ai’s whereabouts is growing as the lockdown of Wuhan ended and Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the eastern province of Zhejiang to call on people to return to work.
New cases are still being reported, including asymptomatic cases such as the one reported Monday by health authorities in Pingdingshan in central Henan province.
Hubei resident Feng Jianbin said many people worried about the continued spread of COVID-19 by people with no symptoms.
“Asymptomatic carriers, as they’re called, are defined by the government, who just keep on redefining the parameters and then say that there are no confirmed cases,” Feng said. “The aim is mainly to cover up the reality.”
“The day before yesterday there was a case like this in Jingmen city, who had travelled through Wuhan and stayed there for two days,” he said. “That was two-and-a-half months ago, and they’ve only just discovered him, which is terrifying.”
News website Caixin called on health officials to release official figures for the number of asymptomatic cases, who are not treated by the authorities as confirmed COVID-19 cases, even if they test positive for the virus. (Source: RFA)