China's "two sessions", the country's biggest annual political event, may be postponed this year due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The two sessions are the annual plenary session of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, and the annual plenary session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body.
Conventionally, the CPPCC National Committee starts its annual gathering on March 3, and the NPC on March 5. About 3,000 national legislators and 2,200 national political advisers travel to Beijing for the two sessions.
At the upcoming bi-monthly session of the NPC Standing Committee, which will kick off on Feb 24, members will discuss a draft proposal to postpone the third plenary session of the 13th NPC, according to a meeting of NPC Standing Committee chairs held on Monday in Beijing.
Committee members also will review a draft decision to ban the illegal wildlife trade, to abolish the bad habit of eating wild animals and to better safeguard people's health and safety.
The chairpersons of the CPPCC National Committee also held a meeting on Monday, at which they discussed delaying the third plenary session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee, according to a report by China Central Television.
Zang Tiewei, a spokesman for the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, told Xinhua News Agency that the chairs of the top legislature consider it necessary to delay the annual plenary session of the NPC, as epidemic prevention and control work needs more focused attention at the moment.
"Now it's at a critical moment of curbing the spread of the epidemic," he said, adding that there are about 3,000 national legislators, about one third of them officials at all levels who're currently working at the frontline of the battle against the epidemic.