Although China reported its first case of the novel coronavirus on December 31, the cases of Wuhan whistle-blowers like Li Wenliang who were detained for talking about mysterious pneumonia cases in the city, have long raised doubts about China's transparency on the virus issue.

Four months into the global pandemic, the exact date on which the initial outbreak was reported in China is still contested. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has yet again called out the Asian giant on its lack of transparency and even expressed doubts over when the country witnessed its first case of Covid-19.

Mike Pompeo questions China's lack of transparency over novel coronavirus

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On Thursday (April 23), in an interview with radio host Larry O'Connor, Pompeo said: "You'll recall that the first cases of this were known by the Chinese government maybe as early as November, but certainly by mid-December."

"They were slow to identify this for anyone in the world, including the World Health Organization."

Pompeo said the US wanted more information from the Chinese, including the original samples of SARS-CoV-2. "This issue of transparency is important not only as a historical matter to understand what happened back in November and December and January, but it's important even today," he said.

"This is still impacting lots of lives here in the United States and, frankly, around the world."

Having reported the first coronavirus case on December 31, China informed the WHO, which in turn issued a statement on January 5. It declared the disease a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on January 31 and declared it a pandemic on March 11.

US death toll nears 50,000

Having down-played the threat of the coronavirus all through January and February, the American leadership is blaming China and the WHO for the grim virus situation across the world.

With 3,176 fatalities reported in a single day, the virus death toll in the country has reached 49,887, the highest in the world. The country has reported a staggering number of 868,945 cases, according to tally by John Hopkins University.

Donald Trump's criticism

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With the highest number of cases and fatalities reported in a country which boasts the best health-care infrastructure in the world, US President Donald Trump is being widely criticized over his handling of the outbreak.

The constant criticism of China and the WHO is also seen as a way to deflect attention from his alleged mishandling of the crisis.