Stock photo by RUNSTUDIO via Getty Images

A doctor who was silenced by the Chinese government when he tried to warn other doctors about the newly discovered coronavirus has been hospitalized with the disease.

On Dec. 30, Dr. Li Wenliang sent a chat group message to fellow doctors warning them about seven patients who had been quarantined in a Wuhan hospital with a mysterious illness that resembled SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

Screenshots of his warning message went viral on social media and Li was summoned to the Public Security Bureau just four days later, the BBC News reported.

"When I saw [the message] circulating online, I realized that it was out of my control and I would probably be punished," Li told CNN from his hospital bed in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus.

Li, 34, was confirmed positive for the coronavirus and hospitalized in intensive care over the weekend, despite wearing a hazmat suit and face mask while treating patients.

Li was one of several doctors targeted by police as Chinese authorities tried to suppress information related to the virus in the early days of the outbreak.

The Chinese government has been accused of suppressing the true scale of the epidemic. The death toll is 380 with over 20,000 infections in 20 countries. But critics say the true numbers are probably much higher.

There are 11 confirmed cases so far in the United States.