Li, a 34-year-old doctor working in Wuhan, raised the alarm about the virus on December 30, but was silenced by local police.
According to CNN, he was one of several medics targeted by police for trying to blow the whistle on the deadly virus in the early weeks of the outbreak, which has sickened more than 28,000 people and killed more than 560.
Li had posted in his medical school alumni group on the Chinese messaging app, WeChat, that seven patients from a local seafood market had been diagnosed with a SARS-like illness and were quarantined in his hospital.
Soon after he posted the message, Li was accused of rumor-mongering by the Wuhan police.
Local authorities later apologised to Dr Li, the BBC reported.
A number of posts on Chinese social media sites have expressed sorrow over his death.
A tweet sent out by the Chinese state-run People’s Daily said that Dr Li’s death had sparked “national grief”.