A hospital director in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China, died on Tuesday from the illness, AFP reported. Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, died Tuesday morning despite best efforts to save him.

China had said last week that six medical workers had died from the virus, and 1,716 were infected. The news agency said that Chinese media and bloggers reported Liu’s death early on Tuesday, but later changed their reports to say that doctors were still trying to save him.

The hospital told AFP on Tuesday morning that doctors were administering Liu life-saving medication. Later in the day, state broadcaster CCTV announced Liu’s death.

On February 6, Li Wenliang, the doctor who was among the first to warn the world about a possible novel coronavirus outbreak, died of the infection. In a post on a Chinese social media site in December, Li said seven patients had been diagnosed with an illness similar to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, and were quarantined in his hospital. SARS is a coronavirus that had emerged in China in 2002, and killed almost 800 people across the world.

Li was one of eight medical professionals targeted by the police for trying to blow the whistle on the deadly virus. The doctor reportedly got infected last month after treating a woman with glaucoma who was carrying the novel coronavirus. Li’s death had sparked national grief and outrage.

The toll in the outbreak rose to 1,868 on Tuesday, with 98 more deaths on the Chinese mainland. Of these, 93 deaths were reported from Hubei, the worst-affected province in China. As many as 1,886 new coronavirus cases were reported in the country, taking the total number to 72,436. China’s National Health Commission said that as of Monday, 1,701 patients had recovered from the illness.

At least 454 people on board a Japanese ship docked in Yokohama had tested positive till Monday, including six Indians. On Tuesday, another 88 people were confirmed infected, taking the toll to 542, AFP reported.

WHO warns against ‘overreaction’

The World Health Organization on Tuesday warned against an “overreaction” to the epidemic. There has been panic-buying, event cancellations and anxiety about travelling on cruise ships as China’s toll nears 1,900, AFP reported. Trade fairs, sports competitions and cultural events have been disrupted, while several countries have banned travellers from China.

“Measures should be taken proportional to the situation,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva. “Blanket measures may not help.”