A hospital director at the epicentre of China’s virus outbreak has died, according to state media, the most recent medical worker to be infected by the coronavirus spreading rapidly across the country.
The COVID-19 virus, reportedly originating in Wuhan late last year, has spread to over 72,000 people and killed 1,900 in China.
Wuchang Hospital director Liu Zhiming died Tuesday morning after “all-out rescue efforts failed,” state broadcaster CCTV reported.
He is the first hospital director who died from the coronavirus.
According to official figures, at least six other medical workers have died from the virus while 1,716 were infected. Chinese media and bloggers initially reported Liu’s death briefly after midnight on Tuesday. However, the stories were deleted and replaced with reports that doctors were still trying to save him.
The hospital director’s death reverberates to the death of Wuhan opthalmologist Li Wenliang, who was punished by authorities for sounding alarm about the virus in December.
Li’s death left the nation grieving and resenting the government, who were accused of mistreating the crisis.
People took to social media once again to mourn Liu on Tuesday, with many comparing between Liu’s death and Li’s on the Twitter-like Weibo website, which was also initially reported by state media and then denied hours before being eventually verified again.
Doctors in Wuhan face mask shortages and protective bodysuits, some even wearing homemade hazmat suits and continuing to work despite showing respiratory symptoms because of a shortage of medical staff, health workers told media sources.