Ai Fen, the Wuhan doctor who was the first to alert other doctors, including late whistle-blower Li Wenliang, about the spread of a deadly virus, has gone missing, sparking concerns that she has been detained by the government.
Who is Ai Fen?
As previously reported, Dr Fen was the first to notice a stream of patients with pneumonia-like symptoms in Wuhan weeks before officials confirmed the COVID-19 outbreak. Last month, Fen, the Director of the emergency department at Wuhan Central Hospital, revealed to a Chinese magazine that she was silenced by Chinese authorities for raising an alarm over the imminent outbreak before the virus could spread globally.
Fen said she was reprimanded extremely harshly by officials at Wuhan Central Hospital after she shared a picture of a patient report showing that the individual was suffering from a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-like coronavirus on WeChat.
The image was widely circulated and eventually made its way to Dr. Wenliang who went public with the information about the deadly virus that has now claimed more than 42,000 lives around the world.
Dr. Fen goes missing
According to a report from "60 Minutes Australia," Dr. Fen has not been since her interview with the magazine, in which she spoke out against the Chinese government, leading many to believe she has been detained by authorities.
"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," the investigative show tweeted on Sunday. "She has now disappeared, her whereabouts unknown.
Mysterious post on social media
Shortly after the show aired, a mysterious post was shared on Fen's social media profile. The post, shared on the Twitter-like microblogging platform Weibo, consisted of a picture taken along Wuhan's Jianghan Road along with the caption, "A river, A bridge. A clock chime."
RFA reported that it has not been able to "verify Fen's whereabouts independently" or establish any form of direct communication with her.
"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," the report added.
This has led to conjecture that the government has access to Fen's social media accounts and is posting messages on her profile to make it seem like she's active on social media and not "missing," which some people bought easily, as in the case below: