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Wuhan Hospital director dies from novel coronavirus

New infections fall below 2000 for first time, South Korea economy in ‘emergency’ mode
A doctor puts on a protective suit as he prepares to check on the patients at Jinyintan Hospital designated for coronavirus infected patients, in Wuhan
A doctor puts on a protective suit as he prepares to check on the patients at Jinyintan Hospital designated for coronavirus infected patients, in Wuhan
(AP photo)

Reuters   |   Shanghai   |   Published 18.02.20, 08:04 PM

The head of a leading hospital in China's central city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, died of the disease on Tuesday.

Chinese state television said Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuhan Wuchang Hospital, died at 10.30am (local time), the seventh health worker to fall victim. The hospital was designated to solely treat virus-infected patients.

The number of new coronavirus cases in mainland China fell below 2,000 for the first time since January but the virus remains far from contained.

The total death toll in China has climbed to 1,868, the National Health Commission said. There were 1,886 new confirmed infections, for a total of 72,436.

China’s lockdown of cities and tough curbs on travel and movement have limited the spread of the virus outside the epicentre, but at great cost to the economy and global business.

More than two dozen trade fairs and industry conferences have been postponed because of travel curbs and concerns about the spread of the virus, potentially disrupting deals worth billions of dollars.

Apple became the latest company to warn of trouble, saying it would not meet its guidance for March-quarter revenue because of slower iPhone production and weaker demand in China.

Asian shares fell and Wall Street was poised to retreat from record highs on Tuesday after the news.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the economy was in an emergency situation and required stimulus as the epidemic had disrupted demand for South Korean goods.

Singapore announced a $4.5-billion financial package to help contain the outbreak in the city-state and weather its economic impact.

In Hong Kong, leader Carrie Lam said the government would increase handouts to tackle the outbreak to HK$28 billion ($3.60 billion) from HK$25 billion, as it strives to ease the impact on the Chinese-ruled city's protest-battered economy.

Singapore Airlines Ltd said it would temporarily cut flights in the three months to May, as the epidemic hits demand for services touching and transiting the key travel hub.

As global businesses sought to limit exposure to the virus, health authorities around the world searched for medical weapons.

Japan announced plans to use HIV drugs to combat the virus as a growing number of cases posed an increasing threat to the world’s third-largest economy, as well as public health. With 520, Japan has the most cases outside China.

With Japan’s economy contracting, raising the risk of a recession, the spread of the virus has prompted Tokyo to put limits on public crowds while some companies are telling employees to work from home.

The number of new daily infections in mainland China had not been below 2,000 since January 30, while the daily death toll had not fallen below 100 since February 11.

Outside China, there are 827 cases in 26 countries and regions and five deaths, according to a Reuters count based on official statements. 

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