A China journalist has been sentenced to four years' imprisonment after sharing dozens of videos showing the Wuhan COVID outbreak during the early days of the crisis.

China prosecutors found 37-year-old Zhang Zhan guilty of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble," her lawyer said in a CNN report. CNN said the charge is normally used as punishment for antigovernment activists.

Zhang appeared in court in Shanghai in a wheelchair because of a health condition. She launched a hunger strike in late June to protest her detention and has been force-fed, her attorneys said.

Zhang's firsthand accounts from congested hospitals and empty streets illustrated a darker image of the pandemic's epicenter than officials admitted.

Zhang chronicled the early phases of the outbreak by livestreaming scenes from Wuhan on Facebook, Twitter and WeChat - including videos of crematoriums operating at midnight as the number of deaths grew.

Shanghai's Pudong New Area People's Court handed down the sentence to Zhan, a former lawyer, following charges she spread disinformation, gave interviews to foreign journalists, caused confusion in public order and "maliciously manipulated" the outbreak.

According to The New York Times, Zhan's videos were critical of the China government's handling of the coronavirus and challenged the notion that the country's health officials had everything under control.

Before her arrest in May, Zhang said: "The Chinese government's way of managing the city has just been intimidation and threats. This is truly the tragedy of this country."