It has been revealed that Chinese leaders covered up their knowledge of the coronavirus outbreak for six days after realising it was beginning to spread rapidly, according to reports obtained by The Associated Press.
Beijing officials determined they were dealing with a major health crisis on January 14, but Chinese President Xi only warned the public on January 20.
During those six days, a mass banquet was held in Wuhan where tens of thousands of residents attended. Meanwhile, millions began travelling for Lunar New Year celebrations.
The six-day delay came on top of almost two weeks where China’s National Center for Disease Control did not register any cases of the new coronavirus. Yet, hundreds of patients were appearing in hospitals across the country during that time.
“Allegations of a cover-up or lack of transparency in China are groundless” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
Despite China’s apparent knowledge of the grim situation, officials continued to downplay the threat. Li Qun, the head of China’s National Center for Disease Control said “The risk of sustained human-to-human transmission is low,” on January 15.
This latest news supports President Trump’s accusations that the Chinese government’s secrecy held back the world’s response to the virus.