February 6, 2020 / 5:00 AM / 22 days ago

China may delay annual meeting of parliament due to virus outbreak - sources

BEIJING, Feb 6 (Reuters) - China is considering delaying the annual meeting of its top legislative body, five people familiar with the matter said, as it grapples with a coronavirus epidemic that has forced drastic curtailment of travel and other activity to curb its spread.

The National People’s Congress (NPC), made up of about 3,000 delegates, typically gathers for a session lasting at least 10 days in Beijing, beginning on March 5, to pass legislation and unveil key economic targets for the year.

“The focus remains on taking steps forward towards meeting on schedule, but we are discussing a range of options as the (virus) situation doesn’t look likely to be contained by March,” a senior government official told Reuters, declining to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.

“A delay is one of those options,” the official said.

China’s State Council Information Office and the NPC media centre did not immediately respond to faxed requests for comment. (Reporting by Beijing newsroom Editing by Tony Munroe and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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