These comments, accusing China of delaying their response to their initial outbreak, have angered Beijing. Mr Pompeo said: “The Chinese Communist Party didn’t get it right and put countless lives at risk as a result of that.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying responded on Twitter.

Ms Hua said: “Stop lying through your teeth!”

“As WHO experts said, China’s efforts averted hundreds of thousands of infection cases,” she tweeted.”

She claimed China first told the US about the outbreak on January 3, 12 days before the US alerted Americans in Wuhan, the city where the first cases were reported.

Ms Hua added: “And now blame China for delay? Seriously?”

A State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus responded: “By Jan 3, Chinese authorities had already ordered #Covid19 virus samples destroyed, silenced Wuhan doctors, and censored public concerns online.

“This is a timeline the world must absolutely scrutinise.”

US President Donald Trump has angered China by referring to the disease as the “Chinese virus”.

Despite China initially operating lockdown procedures, a reduction in new cases and deaths has seen some tourists attractions such as Shanghai Zoo reopen.

Visitors must still wear facemasks at all times and have temperature checked.

Documents seen by Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, say the first case may have been dated November 17.

The paper acknowledged there may have been cases earlier and that doctors did not identify this was a new disease until late December.

A 55-year-old man from Hubei Province, where the city of Wuhan is located, could have been the first person to come down with coronavirus.


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Nine cases in total were reported in November.

None of these have been formally identified as patient zero.

Nor is it clear how the virus may have came from Wuhan.

Nor is it clear how the virus may have came from Wuhan.

WHO have said the epicentre of the outbreak has moved to Europe.

Despite claims by Japanese President Shinzo Abe that Japan was planning on hosting the Olympic Games without any changes, there have been calls for the Tokyo event to be postponed.

Tim Hinchley III, the chief executive of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee wrote in a letter “pressing forward amidst the global health crisis this summer is not the answer”.

Nic Coward, chair of UK Athletics agreed telling BBC Sport: “To leave it where it is is creating so much pressure in the system.

“It now has to be addressed.”

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