The state-run ‘Global Times’ said Dr Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist, had died in Wuhan but later it reported that he was “critically ill”, say media reports.
Earlier, the ‘People’s Daily’ sent out a tweet stating that Dr Li’s death had sparked “national grief”.
On December 30 last, Dr Li Wenliang had warned fellow medics about the virus but was told by police to stop making “false comments”.
It was Dr Li who posted his story on the Weibo site from a hospital bed a month after sending out his initial warning.
Also read: Coronavirus toll in China touches 563
The deadly coronavirus has so far claimed over 560 people and infected 28,000 in China.
China’s health authorities claimed most of the coronavirus victims are over the age of 60 or have suffered from other medical conditions, according to China’s health authorities.
‘Global Times’ carried a report from Wuhan Central Hospital saying that Dr Li’s heart stopped beating at 21:30 local time (13:30 GMT) and he was given resuscitation treatment.
“Dr Li was currently in a critical condition,” it said.
The news of Dr Li’s death triggered a huge wave of popular reaction on Weibo – China’s equivalent of Twitter.
Coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and symptoms usually start with a fever, followed by a dry cough.
Most people infected are likely to fully recover – just as they would from a flu.
It was Dr Li who had noticed seven cases of a virus that he thought looked like Sars, the virus which caused global epidemic in 2003.
On 30 December, 34-year-old Dr Li had sent a message to his fellow doctors in a chat group warning them to wear protective clothing to avoid infection.
But after four days, he was summoned to the Public Security Bureau where he was told to sign a letter.
In the letter he was accused of “making false comments” that had “severely disturbed the social order”.
Dr Li on the weekend revealed that he had also contracted the virus himself after testing negative a number of times.
In a video that was widely watched, Dr Li said: “Today nucleic acid testing came back with a positive result, the dust has settled, finally diagnosed.”
The Chinese doctor has his wife and five-year-old daughter. There are reports that his wife is also sick.