The director of a hospital in the coronavirus-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan has died after being infected with the deadly illness, with local media reporting that he "sacrificed" to fight the outbreak.

Dr Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuchang Hospital, died yesterday according to the Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper, The People's Daily.

They also reported that he is the first hospital director to die from the virus.

Red Star News, a newspaper based in nearby Chongqing, reported that Liu "sacrificed" in the battle against the virus and quoted an insider as saying that Liu had always been a healthy man and that he was surprised by the news.


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The news comes weeks after the death of Dr Li Wenliang at another hospital, the Wuhan Central Hospital.

Dr Li was mourned around the world after the ophthalmologist sounded the alarm about the spread of the virus, before being detained by the Chinese government.

The World Health Organisation tweeted: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dr Li Wenliang. We all need to celebrate work that he did" on the virus.

Li, a 34-year-old ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, had shared his concerns the same day that Chinese authorities confirmed they were investigating 27 cases of viral pneumonia. Officials at the epicentre in Wuhan - the capital of Hubei province, where millions are now trapped in an unprecedented lockdown - sent an "urgent notice" to all hospitals about the existence of "pneumonia of unclear cause".

The notice ordered all departments to immediately compile information about known cases and report them up their chain of command. But it did not mention Sars or a coronavirus.

Li had posted a snippet of an RNA analysis finding "Sars coronavirus" and extensive bacteria colonies in a patient's airways, according to a chat transcript that he and other chat members later shared online.