Health workers on the frontlines in Wuhan account for nearly 4% of confirmed cases in the coronavirus epicenter. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, Wuchang Hospital director Liu Zhiming was the latest to die as a result of the epidemic.  

An expert in neurosurgery, Liu Zhiming was among the medical workers rushing to save tens of thousands of patients at Wuchang Hospital, which is one of the designated hospitals for treating coronavirus patients in Wuhan. His death came following the death earlier this month of Li Wenliang, the 34-year-old doctor who was sanctioned by the Chinese government for attempting to warn the public about the dangers of the novel coronavirus back in December. He also contracted the virus after treating infected patients in Wuhan.

According to the Wuhan municipal health commission, Zhiming died following an all-out rescue effort failed to save him. He was just one of the 1,700 medical workers to have been infected and six to have been killed by the novel coronavirus. Most of them were infected in Wuhan and the broader Hubei province.

The death of Zhiming is expected to renew criticism that the Chinese government has not done enough to protect frontline medical workers in Wuhan. Since the outbreak, doctors and nurses who die trying to contain the epidemic have officially been designated as “martyrs.”

In January, China mobilized medical workers from across the country to help treat patients of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in China. The need for additional medical workers came after the virus started to spread and overwhelm local hospitals in Wuhan. As of Feb. 14, at least 25,000 medical workers, including top-line doctors and nurses from the best hospitals in Beijing and Shanghai, have already been dispatched to Hubei province.

As of Tuesday, Feb. 18, the death toll from the novel coronavirus had already reached 1,873. Most of the deaths have occurred in mainland China, where 98 more fatal cases of the disease were reported on Tuesday morning. At least 73,000 have also been infected by the coronavirus since the virus was discovered in early January.  

corona virus The novel coronavirus has already infected thousands in China. World Health Organization (WHO) / Facebook