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Wuhan hospital director, cradle of coronavirus epidemic, succumbed to illness

Liu Zhiming is the second prominent doctor in the country to succumb to the virus.

Liu Zhiming was among the tens of thousands of people infected with coronavirus in mainland China. But he was also the director of one of the main hospitals in Wuhan, a city in the center of the country where the new Covid-19 epidemic broke out. On Tuesday February 18, Chinese public television announced that he died from the disease.

In the evening of Monday, the propaganda department of the health commission of the Hubei region, branch of the communist party, maintained the confusion, indicating on social networks that Liu Zhiming was dead, before going back on these statements. Finally, state television announced the doctor's death Tuesday morning.

He becomes the second eminent doctor in the country to succumb to the virus. In early February, China was moved by the death of Li Wenliang, a doctor who had played the role of whistleblower, at the start of the epidemic. Tens of thousands of health professionals are working to try to stop the spread of this virus, whose home is in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei state.

The toll of the new coronavirus reached 1,886 dead Tuesday in mainland China. 98 new deaths were recorded Tuesday, including 93 in the province of Hubei, epicenter of the epidemic where 1,807 new cases of contagion were also recorded.

Outside Hubei, only 79 new infected people were counted Tuesday, against 890 on February 4. Chinese authorities, who have cordoned off Hubei to try to contain the epidemic, see this sharp decrease in the number of new patients as a sign that the spread of the virus is under control.

The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, however warned on Monday against excess optimism. According to him, the downward trend in new cases “must be interpreted with great caution”. “Trends can change when new populations are affected. It is too early to say that this decline will continue. All scenarios remain possible”, he told reporters.

The number of contaminations amounts to at least 72,300 cases in mainland China and around 900 have been reported in around 30 other countries or territories. Outside mainland China, there are only five deaths: one in Hong Kong, one in the Philippines, one in Japan, one in Taiwan and one in France.

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