While the world is fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese netizens are fighting yet another war in order to preserve the story of the original COVID-19 whistleblower. It became a “relay race” against the Chinese government’s censorship, because all postings about a lady doctor who first reported SARS-like pneumonia at the end of last December in Wuhan are being removed from the Chinese internet.
At about 9 am on March 10, an article titled “The Person Who Handed the Whistle to the Blowers” appeared on WeChat (the Chinese version of Facebook) but got deleted from the entire Chinese Internet within two hours.
Later, the Chinese netizens circulated several variations of the same story, including a version written in Morse code, trying to preserve and spread this article. It escalated from venting to an online protest as people are sharing these articles over and over.
On December 30, 2019, Affin received a virus test report for patients with unknown pneumonia. She circled the word “SARS coronavirus” in red. When asked by a collegemate, she took a picture of the report and sent it to this person who is also a doctor. That night, the report spread to the physicians’ circles in Wuhan including those eight doctors who got disciplined by the police.
This caused trouble for Affin. As the source of the information transmission, She was harshly criticized in an unprecedented way. She was labeled as a professional who spread rumors.
Some Chinese media called her “a lady doctor who was disciplined”. Some called her “the whistleblower”, but she wanted to be called “the person who handed the whistle to the blowers”.