Since the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, China, hospital director Liu Zhiming dedicated his life to treating the thousands of sick patients that poured into his hospital every day. Liu’s tireless efforts led him to contract the virus, and he died of it this week, local officials confirmed.
Liu, 51, the director of Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, died Tuesday morning after “all-out rescue efforts failed,” to save him, state broadcaster CCTV reported. He is at least the seventh of the more than 1,700 infected health workers to die of the disease, officially known as COVID-19, The Associated Press reports.
As of Tuesday morning, the disease had killed at least 1,874 people, all but five of them in mainland China. Health workers in China have been one of the hardest-hit groups, working long hours and often without enough assistance.
Liu’s death was initially reported by Chinese media shortly after midnight on Tuesday, but the stories were later deleted and replaced with reports that doctors were still trying to save him.
The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said Liu had been a vital part of fighting the spread of the virus from the beginning, saying he “made important contributions to the prevention and control” of the virus in Wuhan.
Liu grew up in Hubei and graduated from Wuhan University’s School of Medicine in 1991. He had a successful career as a chief physician, neurosurgeon and administrator.
Liu’s death is being compared to the earlier loss of Dr. Li Wenliang — a Chinese doctor who was threatened by the government after he voiced concerns about the virus in December. Li was lauded on Chinese social media as a hero, and his death from the virus earlier this month prompted a national outpouring of grief as well as anger against the authorities, who were accused of mishandling the crisis.