Head of hospital dies in coronavirus epicentre

People wearing face masks and protective goggles walk at a hutong near the Qianmen pedestrian street, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country, in Beijing, China February 18, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

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 while South Korea announced an economic emergency and Singapore Airlines slashed flights.

Chinese state television said Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuhan Wuchang Hospital is 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 Inc 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.