Chinese leader reportedly aware of coronavirus earlier than thought

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Chinese President Xi Jinping was aware of the deadly coronavirus that is ravaging his country much earlier than originally thought, according to a new report.

Xi gave unspecified internal orders about the virus on Jan. 7 during a meeting of the country’s Politburo Standing Committee, according to the New York Times, which noted the remarks came two weeks earlier than his first public comments on Jan. 20.

The revelation came in a speech Xi gave on Feb. 3 that was published Saturday in a Community Party journal.

Jinping spoke about his involvement in combating the crisis which started in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei Province.

“I clearly demanded that Hubei Province exercise comprehensive, strict control over the outflow of individuals,” Xi said in the speech, according to the Times.

The coronavirus has killed at least 1,527 people and sickened more than 67,000 others. The first death was reported in Europe Saturday in an elderly tourist from China who died in France.

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