China may postpone annual parliament session as it battles coronavirus

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China may postpone its annual parliament session, state media said Monday, as the country battles to control the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

China’s ruling council will “deliberate a draft decision” over postponing the ten-day National People’s Congress (NPC), said official news agency Xinhua, ahead of the meeting due to start on March 5.

The top parliamentary meeting has been held annually in March for the past 35 years.

More than 70,000 people have been infected by the epidemic in mainland China, which started in central Hubei province and has spread across China and to other countries.

It has claimed 1,770 lives and prompted the closure of many schools, entertainment venues and large-scale events across China.

A meeting of China’s elite Politburo Standing Committee next week is expected to “deliberate a draft decision on postponing the third annual session of the 13th NPC”, according to Xinhua.

It will also review a decision on banning the “illegal wildlife trade and eliminating the bad habits of eating wild animals to guarantee people’s lives, health and safety”, Xinhua said.

The virus is believed to have come from a wild animal market in Wuhan, Hubei’s capital, where the virus is suspected of having originated before spreading between humans.

The Standing Committee will meet to discuss those decisions on February 24.

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