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Dr. Li Wenliang was arrested for sending messages warning of coronavirus. [Image: Mirror]

Asia
A doctor who chillingly predicted the coronavirus infection days before the epidemic hit was arrested in a nighttime raid on his home.

A doctor who chillingly predicted the coronavirus infection days before the epidemic hit was arrested in a nighttime raid on his home.

Doctor Li Wenliang, who worked at a hospital in Wuhan, sent a message to a group chat of medical students saying "Quarantined in the emergency department" - at the point when just seven patients were confirmed as infected.

 One member of the group chat replied saying "So frightening" before asking if it could become as serious as the SARS epidemic that began in China and killed 800 people.

Three days later, Dr Wenliang was arrested in the middle of the night after police turned up at his home.

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He was allegedly then made to sign a statement saying his actions were classed as "illegal behaviour", reports The New York Times.

The Chinese government has been criticised for attempting to suppress news of viral outbreak.

The coronavirus death toll in mainland China has overtaken the SARS epidemic of 2003 while a new 1,000-bed hospital to help tackle the outbreak has been built in just eight days.

Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan, where the virus originated, is one of two dedicated facilities being constructed with 361 deaths now confirmed since the outbreak started in December.

Patients will begin to be admitted from later today, according to reports.

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Three-hundred and forty-eight people died on the Chinese mainland as a result of SARS almost 17 years ago.

The hospital, Huoshenshan, or "fire-god mountain", is designed to have 1,000 beds for patients with confirmed infections to ease a shortage of beds elsewhere in the city as the virus spreads.

The epidemic has infected more than 17,000 in China and at least 171 overseas.

There are more than 11,000 cases in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, state television said today.

Construction of Huoshenshan was copied from a hospital built in Beijing in 2003 that was dedicated to the fight against SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.

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More than 7,500 workers took part in the fast-build project, which commenced on January 25 and finished this weekend.

China is also building a second hospital in Wuhan dedicated to the treatment of coronavirus patients, with 1,600 beds.

Leishenshan, or "thunder-god mountain", is scheduled to be completed on February 5.

There are 17,205 confirmed cases of coronavirus, as of Sunday, the same day the first confirmed fatality outside China was announced.

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A 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan died in the Philippines, but appears to have become infected before arriving.

The outbreak is only the fifth declared a public health emergency by the WHO in its seven-decade history, after ebola, swine flu, polio and zika.

Foreign Secretary  Dominic Raab said: “The safety and security of British nationals is our priority. Our embassy in Beijing and consular teams remain in close contact with British nationals in the region to ensure they have the information they need.”

The demand for face masks in the UK has risen, despite expert advice casting doubt on their effectiveness against coronavirus.


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