BANGKOK (AP) — A Chinese official confirmed that the annual legislative session will be curtailed to protect public health during the coronavirus pandemic.
Zhang Yesui, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, did not indicate how much it would be shortened. He told the official Xinhua News Agency that the agenda and schedule would be approved before the session starts in Beijing on May 22.
The congress, delayed from March because of the outbreak, normally lasts about two weeks. Police have announced a ban on drones and other low-flying objects because of the May 20-28 meeting, so this year’s could run about a week.
China’s ruling Communist Party decided to go ahead with the meeting of 3,000 delegates after largely stopping the spread of the virus. But some government officials will join breakout sessions with deputies via video link, and news conferences will also be conducted remotely by video.
Small clusters of new cases are still popping up elsewhere in China. Two more cases were confirmed Friday in one such area, Jilin province in the country’s northeast.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— WARNING AS AUSTRALIA EASES MEASURES: Restrictions put in place to stop the coronavirus from spreading across Australia have eased, but the public was warned to take their newfound freedoms carefully in order to prevent a second wave of the pandemic. States and territories have begun the first of a three-stage process to lift restrictions on outdoor and indoor gatherings and business operations. Australians will get to sit in pubs, cafes and restaurants for the first time in weeks after isolation and social distancing measures kept the lid on infections and COVID-19 deaths. But Australian Medical Association President Tony Bartone urged people to remain vigilant because the virus is still present in the community and could flare up. “If we do the wrong things, we risk undoing all the gains that we’ve made,” Batone said. “So, the message is, yes, appreciate all the efforts, appreciate the opportunity to release some of those measures, but let’s not have a party, let’s not go to town.” The number of active cases breached 7,000 on Friday, but the death toll from the pandemic remains at 98, extremely low by international standards.
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