A doctor who was punished for warning about the coronavirus before it killed him has been exonerated after his heartbreaking last words were revealed.
Dr Li Wenliang warned of COVID-19 last year after its outbreak in Wuhan, China, before the bug went on to wreak havoc around the world.
But he and seven colleagues were reprimanded in December for writing about the threat, saying he had examined a patient with symptoms similar to SARS.
It is reported that he told of the threat in a group chat and on social media before his death.
He was quickly taken to a local police station and warned against "publishing fictitious discourse related to the confirmation of seven SARS cases at the Huanana fruits and seafood market in the WeChat group".
Reports in China said he was admonished for creating an "adverse social impact".
According to GQ, police told him in a transcript: “The law enforcement agency wants you to cooperate, listen to the police and stop your illegal behaviour. Can you do that?"
He responded: “I can."
Police added: “If you insist on your views, refuse to repent and continue the illegal activity, you will be punished by the law. Do you understand?”
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Dr Li continued: “I understand."
He is then pictured taking a selfie on a hospital bed, looking pale and wearing a respirator.
His last message to his Weibo account read: "Today the nucleic acid test result is positive, the dust has settled and the diagnosis has finally been confirmed.”
He later died, but was hailed a hero and his death sparked a "freedom of speech" protest online.
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According to reports posts using the hashtag were taken down by the Chinese state.
Today, Sky News reports that he has been exonerated and issued a "solemn apology" by the ruling Communist Party's top disciplinary body.
The report adds the two police officers have been issued "disciplinary punishments" for their role.
So far, there have been more than 250,000 cases of coronavirus in the world and over 10,000 deaths.
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