Coronavirus: Director at hospital at centre of outbreak dies

Kate Ng

A hospital director in Wuhan has died of coronavirus after dedicating all the resources of his hospital to helping deal with the outbreak.

Liu Zhiming, director of Wuhan Wuchang Hospital, was pronounced dead at 10.20am on Tuesday after “all-out efforts to save him failed”, said the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.

The 52-year-old was credited for making “important contributions in the work of fighting and controlling” the virus, which has infected tens of thousands and killed 1,868 people.

Liu is the seventh heath worker known to have died of the virus. Some 1,700 doctors and nurses have been infected while dealing with the outbreak.

Li Wenliang, a doctor who was reprimanded by Chinese authorities for warning other medics about the emergence of a Sars-like illness, died earlier this month.

The death of Liu was initially announced by Hubei Health Commission in a social media post on Monday, but it said in a subsequent post he was in fact still alive.

The commission blamed “misinformation” from a friend of Liu for the initial announcement and said in the second post: “According to Liu’s relative, the hospital is still trying its best to rescue him.”

The commission has not made any new posts since state television announced Liu’s death on Tuesday morning.

A study by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has found that more than 80 percent of coronavirus cases examined were mild and the number of new infections has been falling since early February.

However, it also found that disease, now formally known as Covid-19, is far deadlier than normal flu with a fatality rate of 2.3 percent. The fatality rate for seasonal flu is typically 0.1 percent.

It warned that, although cases seem to be declining, that could change as people return to work and school after the Lunar New Year holidays.

The Chinese government extended the holiday period in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus, encouraging telecommuting and self-quarantines.

Globally, there have been more than 73,000 cases of coronavirus, with the vast majority of them concentrated in the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began.

Additional reporting by agencies

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