Chinese President Xi Jinping issued orders to contain the deadly coronavirus outbreak almost two weeks earlier than previously thought, according to an account that appears to contradict the narrative that local officials were to blame for allowing the epidemic to spiral.

The official Communist Party magazine Qiushi’s account at the weekend says Xi met the party’s politburo standing committee, China’s most powerful decision-making body, and gave instructions on the virus response on January 7 — 13 days before the public was warned about the outbreak’s severity...

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