Updated Feb 6, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus kills Chinese doctor who warned of outbreak

Passengers wear protective facemasks in the departure hall of Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese doctor, who sounded the alarm on the potential of a deadly coronavirus outbreak, has died after contracting the virus. The Wuhan Central Hospital has confirmed his death, after there was a period of confusion in the media.

Why it matters: Li Wenliang, 34, was an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital. In December he sent a warning to other physicians about the potential of a respiratory illness he had seen in several patients, per the Washington Post. Chinese authorities ordered him and other doctors to stop promulgating "rumors" about the SARS-like cases.

  • He confirmed he contracted the disease in a social media post on Jan. 31, per the Post.
  • That virus, now identified as the coronavirus, has killed more than 560 people and infected over 28,000 in mainland China.

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Editor's note: This piece is being updated with new information.

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A medical staff member walks past Wuhan Central Hospital in China on Friday. Photo: Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, has now killed more people than the 2003 SARS outbreak, the latest health figures show.

What's happening: Health authorities in China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, reported 81 new deaths from the virus on Saturday — taking the toll in the region to 780. China's National Health Commission confirmed later Saturday that a total of 811 people have died of coronavirus in the country.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

As the novel coronavirus continues spreading globally and China grapples with a limited production capability, there's a growing risk to about 150 prescription drugs in the U.S., sources tell Axios.

The big picture: The coronavirus has spread to more countries, with both South Korea and Italy stepping up emergency measures amid rising case numbers on Sunday. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,467 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China.

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Why it matters: Wuhan is the epicenter of the virus that's killed 361 people in China and one person in the Philippines. It has infected more than 17,000 people in mainland China and around 200 in 26 other countries and regions. The hospital was built in 10 days.

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