BEIJING (AFP) – A 29-year-old doctor at the epicentre of China’s new coronavirus outbreak has died from the disease, one of the youngest known fatalities of the epidemic and the latest among medical workers.
Dr Peng Yinhua died on Thursday (Feb 20) after becoming infected while working at Wuhan’s Jiangxia district People’s No. 1 Hospital, official news agency Xinhua reported, citing the local health bureau.
Dr Peng was hospitalised on Jan 25 and transferred to Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital for treatment on Jan 30. He died from the virus at 9.50pm on Thursday despite doctors' efforts to save his life at the hospital.
The respiratory and critical illness doctor had planned to get married during the Chinese New Year holiday, but postponed his wedding to help treat coronavirus patients.
Dr Peng “never got to send out his wedding invitations, which are still in his office drawer,” Xinhua said.
At least eight medical professionals have been killed by the virus, which experts believe is generally most dangerous for elderly patients and those with underlying conditions.
Chinese authorities have not disclosed the age range of fatalities in weeks.
More than 2,200 people have now died and more than 75,000 have been infected in China.
The youngest known confirmed patient is a baby in Wuhan who tested positive for the virus just 30 hours after birth.
Earlier in February, 34-year-old whistleblowing doctor Li Wenliang died of the virus, prompting nationwide grief and anger over how authorities initially punished the Wuhan ophthalmologist’s early efforts to sound the alarm on the outbreak.
Dr Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, died Tuesday morning.
Chinese authorities say more than 1,700 medical workers have been infected, most in central Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.
Staff have faced shortages of face masks and protective clothing, with some even wearing makeshift bodysuits and continuing to work despite showing respiratory symptoms, health workers have told AFP.
People took to social media once more to mourn Dr Peng on Friday, with many expressing shock at his youth.
“This is really too tragic: white-haired parents sending off black-haired youth, and his wife-to-be who never got to marry him,” one user on the Weibo microblogging platform wrote.