Coronavirus updates: Wuhan hospital director dies as death toll nears 2,000

• 1,868 dead, 72,436 confirmed cases in mainland China

• Wuhan hospital director dies of coronavirus

• Quarantine on cruise ship in Japan could end as early as Wednesday

• Apple says coronavirus will hit revenue expectations

• Japan plans HIV drug trials for coronavirus

• 'Every scenario on the table' in virus outbreak: WHO

1,868 dead, 72,436 confirmed cases in mainland China

The total death toll from novel coronavirus outbreak in China has reached 1,868, officials at China’s National Health Commission said Tuesday.

There were 1,886 new confirmed infections as the total number of confirmed cases grew to 72,436.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters Tuesday the Chinese government and people have been making “all-out efforts” to counter the outbreak.

“The most stringent and thorough measures have been taken and relevant efforts are gradually showing their effects,” Geng said. “We have the confidence and capability to win this battle.” — Dawn Liu

Wuhan hospital director dies of coronavirus

The head of a leading hospital in the city of Wuhan, the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak, died of the virus Tuesday.

Wuhan Municipal Health Commission confirmed that Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuhan's Wuchang Hospital, died Tuesday at the age of 51.

“Since the outbreak, Comrade Liu Zhiming, regardless of his personal safety, led the medical staff of Wuchang Hospital to fight the epidemic, and made important contributions to the prevention and control of new-type coronavirus pneumonia in our city,” the commission said in a statement.

Thousands of medical workers from across the country have been sent to Wuhan, which has been bearing the brunt of the epidemic, in recent weeks to help the overwhelmed local health authorities.

The Chinese government has also constructed two hospitals in a matter of days in the city to expand the capacity to handle a growing number of coronavirus patients.

Liu is the ninth known fatality among medical personnel battling the epidemic in China.

Earlier this month, public outrage was stirred by the death from the virus of Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang, who had been threatened by police after warning others of an unusual respiratory illness in December before it had spread widely.

Meanwhile, doctors and medical professionals who die after contracting the virus through their work treating infected patients are to be granted a rare "martyr" status, China’s Central Military Commission announced Monday, implying “preferential treatment” for their families. — Leou Chen and Yuliya Talmazan

Cruise ship quarantine in Japan could end as early as Wednesday

Japan's health minister said Tuesday that plans to allow passengers to leave the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship were still being finalized, but said the operation could start as early as Wednesday.

But Katsunobu Kato told reporters in Tokyo, near where the ship is docked, that the start could be delayed by one or two days, due to the large number of passengers and crew involved.

"We still have to create a situation where they can return home smoothly", Kato explained.

The Japanese Health Ministry said Tuesday 2,404 people among the 3,700 initially on board have been tested so far, and 542 returned positive results. This represents the biggest number of cases outside China.

The U.S. evacuated more than 300 American passengers from the ship Sunday — 14 of them tested positive for the virus during the evacuation process. — Associated Press

Apple says coronavirus will hurt revenue expectations

Apple expects to fall short of previous quarterly revenue guidance because of problems in production and demand in China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"Work is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated," the company said Monday in an investor update.

It added that the worldwide iPhone supply will be temporarily constrained and that demand for its products in China has been affected, noting that all of its stores in China and many of its partner stores had been closed. — Phil Helsel

Japan plans HIV drug trials for coronavirus

Japan plans to trial the use of HIV medications to treat patients infected with coronavirus as the growing number of cases poses an increasing threat to the country’s economy as well as public health.

Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, said at a briefing on Tuesday that the government is “currently conducting preparations so that clinical trials using HIV medication on the novel coronavirus can start as soon as possible.”

Suga said he couldn’t comment on how long it would take for the new drug to be approved. — Reuters

COVID-19 not as deadly as other coronaviruses: WHO

The director-general of the World Health Organisation has said that new data suggests that COVID-19 is not as deadly as other coronaviruses, and that more than 80 per cent of patients develop only mild cases of the disease.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a media briefing in Geneva on Monday that China has published a paper with detailed data on more than 44,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, that gives doctors and researchers a better understanding of the age range of people affected, the severity of the disease and the mortality rate.

The virus causes severe disease In about 14 percent of cases, including pneumonia and shortness of breath, Tedross added. About five percent of patients have critical disease including respiratory failure, septic shock and multi-organ failure.

And the virus is fatal in two percent of reported cases, while the risk of death increases the older you are, he said. — Yuliya Talmazan