A nurse in a protective suit feeds a coronavirus patient inside an isolated ward at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, February 8, 2020.
China Daily via Reuters
BEIJING — The director of a Chinese hospital located in the city at the center of the coronavirus outbreak died Tuesday, adding to the number of medical staff who have lost their lives to the contagious disease.
Liu Zhiming, 51, died Tuesday morning of the new coronavirus after an all-out rescue effort failed to save him, the Wuhan municipal health commission said in Chinese on its website, according to a CNBC translation.
He was the director of the city’s Wuchang Hospital. It is one of the designated hospitals for treating the virus, which emerged in the city in December before spreading around the country.
Wuhan, a city of about 11 million people, still accounts for the majority of deaths and confirmed cases from the new virus. Roughly three-fourths of the over 1,800 people who have died of the disease in mainland China are from the city, according to the National Health Commission.
Firsthand accounts about the health-care conditions in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province remain grim, with reports of shortages in medical staff, supplies and hospital beds. The city has raced to build two new designated hospitals and repurpose other locations to care for the more than 40,000 confirmed cases.
As of Monday night, the number of beds at designated Wuhan hospitals was less than half that figure at just over 19,100 — and 94% were filled, according to Wuhan’s health commission‘s website. The report also showed that out of 45 facilities, 17 had zero beds available.
Health care workers at risk
Medical workers have accounted for nearly 4% of confirmed virus cases as of the end of Feb. 11, Zeng Yixin, deputy director of the National Health Commission, said at a press conference Friday. Out of the more than 1,700 infected disclosed then, six had died, Zeng said.
Earlier this month, 34-year-old doctor Li Wenliang, who was initially reprimanded by local authorities for his early warnings about the virus, died in Wuhan from the new coronavirus. He contracted the virus after treating infected patients, and his death caused an outpouring of anger and condolences on Chinese social media.
In recent days, Chinese authorities have emphasized a decline in the number of confirmed cases outside the province of Hubei, where Wuhan is located. The central government has made cracking down on the disease there a national priority.
More than 30,000 health workers from across the country have been sent to the region, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a release Tuesday that outlined a meeting Monday of a national-level working group headed by Premier Li Keqiang.
Protection of medical workers should be strengthened, and more medical staff will be brought in as needed, the release said.
— CNBC’s Wendy Ye contributed to this report