China issues 'solemn apology' to doctor reprimanded for early coronavirus warnings

China issues 'solemn apology' to doctor reprimanded for early coronavirus warnings

The Chinese government has exonerated and apologized to the family of a scientist who had issued an early warning about the outbreak of the coronavirus and later died from the illness, signaling a rare admission of guilt from the country's ruling Communist Party.

When he was alive, Dr. Li Wenliang had been threatened with arrest by police in the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak — now a global pandemic — started.

The government said that a "solemn apology” had been issued to Li's family, The Associated reports.

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Li's death and the subsequent spread of the virus around the world sparked anger at the country's communist government and its absolute control over information.

Originally the epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan on Friday marked its second consecutive day without reports of a new coronavirus case.

China's National Health Commission reported on Friday that the 39 new cases in the country had originated overseas, an indication that the intense quarantine and travel restrictions that China had put in place seem to have had an effect in helping stop the spread of the virus.

The country has lifted some of the restrictions on Hubei province, which surrounds Wuhan, but the city itself remains on lockdown. Chinese officials have said the lockdown will remain in place until there are no new cases for 14 straight days.

Over 80,000 people in China have been infected by COVID-19.