The head of a major hospital in the virus epicenter of Wuhan is in critical condition after being infected with the disease, according to Chinese state-run media on Feb. 19.
In the locked-down city, medical workers have faced intense physical and mental pressure in overstretched hospitals that are struggling with a shortage of supplies, beds, and manpower.
On Feb. 18, Liu Zhiming, 51, director of Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan became the highest level health official to succumb to the virus.
Wang, a specialist in gastroenterology, is also the deputy director of Wuhan Central Hospital. The whistleblower doctor, Li Wenliang, worked for this hospital before he passed away from the virus on Feb. 7.
Chinese web-portal Tencent reported on Feb. 17 that more than 230 medical staff from Wuhan Central Hospital were diagnosed with COVID-19 by Feb. 9. Of those infected, 130 were being treated in hospital, while the rest who exhibited relatively mild conditions were in quarantine at home.
Wang is currently being treated at Jinyintan Hospital, the first designated hospital for coronavirus in Wuhan, according to Beijing News.
Wuhan Medical Workers
Due to the regime’s tight censorship over information relating to the outbreak, detailed news about infected medical workers is generally suppressed.
However, the tragic experience of Liu Fan, a nurse from Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, and her family was recently reported by state-run media.
Liu died on Feb. 14 at age 59.
A netizen named Tiantian then posted on WeChat, a Facebook-like social media platform, on the morning of Feb. 15: “Liu was treating [coronavirus patients] on Jan. 26. She didn’t have protective suits… the result is all her family was infected and parents died of the virus.”
Hours after Tiantian’s post, internet police commented that the information about Liu was a rumor that was “maliciously created by foreign forces.” The police said Liu retired several years ago.
However, an hour later, Wuchang Hospital confirmed that Liu was a nurse working for them and was infected while treating patients.
Chinese media Caixin reported on Feb. 16 that Liu’s father was infected with the virus in January and passed away. Later Liu’s mother died of the virus.
On Feb. 14, Liu’s 55-year-old younger brother died of the virus—hours before her passing. Liu’s sister-in-law was also infected and in critical condition.
Liu’s husband and daughter are under quarantine. Only her brother’s son, who is in the UK, is safe and unaffected.
The COVID-19 outbreak emerged in Wuhan in early December 2019. Since then, tens of thousands have been infected and several thousand have died within China, while dozens of countries have also reported cases.