Coronavirus Kills Wuhan Hospital Director As New Infections Fall

A clearer picture of the COVID-19 death rate is emerging. Photo: Yuan Zheng/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The coronavirus spreading through China claimed its most-high-profile victim Tuesday with the death of Liu Zhiming, the head doctor at a Chinese hospital at the epicenter of the outbreak. The neurosurgeon and director of the Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan died Tuesday morning, the hospital announced.

Zhiming made “important contributions in the work of fighting and controlling” COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said. But after becoming infected, he died when “all-out efforts to save him failed.”

The 51-year-old doctor is at least the eighth health-care worker to die from COVID-19. As many as 3,000 more have been infected, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

Here’s the latest on what could soon become a global pandemic:

New infections fall

A sliver of good news emerged Tuesday when China’s National Health Commission reported a trio of encouraging trends regarding the spread of the disease. The Wall Street Journal reports:

On Tuesday, China’s National Health Commission reported 1,886 new confirmed coronavirus cases in mainland China on Monday, the first time the daily tally has fallen below 2,000 since the beginning of the month. The daily number of confirmed cases outside Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, also fell to below 100 for the first time this month, while the number of new deaths across mainland China — 98 on Monday, all but five of them in Hubei — fell to less than 100 for the first time in nearly a week.

A clearer picture of the death rate

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention is out with its most concrete statistics about the fatality rate of the coronavirus and who is likeliest to die. The latest numbers, from a study analyzing results from 44,672 patients through February 11, suggests a death rate of 2.3 percent in China, the New York Times reports. For comparison’s sake, the common flu has a death rate of 0.1 percent in the U.S.

The death rate is much higher in the Hubei province, where Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, is located. The rate is 2.9 percent in the province and 0.4 percent in the rest of China.

The study includes a breakdown of the demographics of the cases and finds that COVID-19 is deadlier for men, who have a 2.8 percent death rate, than it is for women, who have a 1.7 percent death rate. The fatality rate also rises with age, and the virus is riskier for people with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and hypertension.

150 million living under lockdown

Chinese officials have imposed a variety of different procedures for restricting the movement of citizens during the outbreak. An analysis by the Times found that 150 million people in the country “are facing government restrictions about how often they can leave their homes.” Another 500 million face some restrictions on their movement under what the paper called “one of the biggest social control campaigns in history.”

Cruise-ship evacuation expected soon

All of the passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was put under quarantine in Tokyo after ten cases of coronavirus were reported on February 4, have been tested for the virus. So far, there are 542 cases, the Japanese government said Monday. The last outstanding test results are expected on Wednesday, when the quarantine is scheduled to lift.

On Sunday, the U.S. evacuated more than 300 Americans from the ship. Fourteen of the evacuees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Coronavirus Kills Hospital Director As New Infections Fall