Wuhan Doctor Whose Skin Turned Dark from COVID Now Back to Normal

A doctor from Wuhan whose skin darkened significantly as a result of COVID-19 has now returned to normal, Chinese state media has said. Yi Fan and his colleague Hu Weifeng made headlines towards the start of the pandemic after footage of them in hospital circulated online. While Yi recovered from the illness, Hu died in June.

In newly released footage, Yi returned to hospital to thank one of the doctors who treated him. Respiratory specialist Wang Chen, who is also vice president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, was attending an event at a local hospital when Yi met with him to discuss his recovery, the state-run Global Times reports.

Yi was diagnosed with COVID-19 in January and hospitalized after becoming seriously ill. Both he and Hu's complexion darkened while receiving treatment.

What caused the change is unknown. Some reports suggest it was the result of liver damage caused by the disease, while others say it was a reaction to an antibiotic the two doctors were given at the start of their treatment.

When their skin initially changed color, doctors said they expected it to turn back to normal once they had recovered from the disease.

Yi's condition was treated with a pump that circulates blood through an artificial lung and back into the bloodstream. He came off this in March and was eventually discharged in May.

In a video released by China's state-run broadcaster CCTV in April, Yi said he had "basically recovered" and was able to breath well generally, but that walking was still a little difficult. He said that when he got out of hospital he wanted to go to Beijing to thank the people who saved him.

Hu received the same treatment and while his health started to improve, he suffered from cerebral hemorrhages and died on June 2. His death sparked a backlash against Chinese authorities and the way the pandemic had been handled.

At the time, state media noted how Hu had worked in the same hospital as Li Wenliang. Li, an ophthalmologist, became known as a whistleblower who had warned about coronavirus in December, sending a message to fellow doctors about the dangers of the virus via social media.

Shortly after, he was made to sign a document saying he had made false statements that disturbed public order. Li contracted the virus while working at the Wuhan Central Hospital and died in February.

According to The Guardian, Hu was the sixth doctor from Wuhan Central Hospital to die from the disease. A hashtag about his death had over 400 million views and almost 50,000 comments, with many asking why the hospital chiefs had not been punished. Others asked why staff had been silenced when trying to warn about the risks of COVID-19.

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Representative image showing a COVID-19 patient in the Wuhan Central Hospital in March. A doctor whose skin turned dark after getting the disease has now recovered. STR/AFP via Getty Images