On Tuesday, Liu Zhiming, director of the Wuchang hospital in Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, himself died of the virus, according to a statement released by local government authorities.
Liu was a neurosurgeon and the most senior health worker known to have died as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. His death could renew criticism that the government has not done enough to protect frontline medical workers, many of whom are overworked and overstretched.
Also on Tuesday, state media reported that doctors and nurses who die while trying to contain the outbreak will officially be designated as "martyrs."
All but five deaths from the virus have occurred inside mainland China, where an additional 98 fatal cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, were reported Tuesday morning. The number of confirmed cases in China increased by 1,886, bringing the global total to over 73,325.
The vast majority of those cases have been in China, but concern has been growing in the past week over much smaller but growing outbreaks in Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong.
According to China's National Health Commission, since the outbreak began in December, more than 12,500 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
Outside of Hubei, the province of which Wuhan is capital, the number of new cases has dropped for 14 consecutive days.