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BEIJING — A Wuhan doctor who attempted to warn the public about a potential new coronavirus outbreak died on Friday from the infection, as the number of virus-related deaths continued to rise taking the total in China to more than 600.

As of Friday morning, the number of confirmed cases globally stood at 31,420, with more than 31,000 of those in mainland China. The number of cases in China grew by 3,143, or around 11{5ad3c25f5d8a6462a9daae157324f98d5b0edc4be0c0ed5ad8ca367936c1d337}, on the previous day. That is a drop in the percentage increase, which had been around 15{5ad3c25f5d8a6462a9daae157324f98d5b0edc4be0c0ed5ad8ca367936c1d337} every other day this week.

In total there have been 638 deaths, all but two of which were in mainland China, with one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong.

Li Wenliang, 34, was a Wuhan doctor who was widely hailed as a hero after it emerged he was targeted by police for spreading “rumors” about the virus, when he was, in fact, sharing accurate information to try and raise the alarm.

Speaking to CNN this week from his hospital bed, Li said that “I only wanted to remind my university classmates to be careful.” At the time he was warning about a SARS-like virus spreading in the city, officials were still downplaying the outbreak and its danger.

Wuhan Central Hospital, where Li worked as an ophthalmologist, announced his death in the early hours of Friday morning local time, leading to an outpouring of grief and anger online. This was made worse by initial confusion as state media first published then retracted reports of his death, leading to allegations they were trying to cover it up or control the story.

“I knew you would post this in the middle of the night,” read one popular post on Weibo, one of China’s largest social media platforms. “You think we’ve all gone to sleep? No. We haven’t.”

Another said that “countless young people will mature overnight after today: the world is not as beautiful as we imagined. Are you angry? If any of us here is fortunate enough to speak up for the public in the future, please make sure you remember tonight’s anger.”

On Friday, China’s National Supervisory Commission, the country’s top anti-corruption agency, announced in a statement that it would send a team to Wuhan to investigate Li’s death, “in response to issues raised by the masses.” The short statement did not elaborate on the nature of the “issues” raised.

(PHOTO: Li Wenliang/CNN)