Coronavirus updates: Wuhan hospital director dies as death toll nears 2,000

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(Nbcnews) – The total death toll from novel coronavirus outbreak in China has reached 1,868, officials at China’s National Health Commission said Tuesday.

There were 1,886 new confirmed infections as the total number of confirmed cases grew to 72,436.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters Tuesday the Chinese government and people have been making “all-out efforts” to counter the outbreak.

“The most stringent and thorough measures have been taken and relevant efforts are gradually showing their effects,” Geng said. “We have the confidence and capability to win this battle.” — Dawn Liu

Wuhan hospital director dies of coronavirus

The head of a leading hospital in the city of Wuhan, the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak, died of the virus Tuesday.

Liu Zhiming, director of Wuchang Hospital.

Wuhan Municipal Health Commission confirmed that Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuhan’s Wuchang Hospital, died Tuesday at the age of 51.

“Since the outbreak, Comrade Liu Zhiming, regardless of his personal safety, led the medical staff of Wuchang Hospital to fight the epidemic, and made important contributions to the prevention and control of new-type coronavirus pneumonia in our city,” the commission said in a statement.

Thousands of medical workers from across the country have been sent to Wuhan, which has been bearing the brunt of the epidemic, in recent weeks to help the overwhelmed local health authorities.

The Chinese government has also constructed two hospitals in a matter of days in the city to expand the capacity to handle a growing number of coronavirus patients.

Liu is the ninth known fatality among medical personnel battling the epidemic in China.

Earlier this month, public outrage was stirred by the death from the virus of Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang, who had been threatened by police after warning others of an unusual respiratory illness in December before it had spread widely.

Meanwhile, doctors and medical professionals who die after contracting the virus through their work treating infected patients are to be granted a rare “martyr” status, China’s Central Military Commission announced Monday, implying “preferential treatment” for their families.

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