China’s top legislature will start its third annual session from May 22, marking yet another step in the country’s return to normalcy after the coronavirus outbreak, state media reported on Wednesday.

The decision was taken by the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee at meeting held in the capital Beijing from April 26 to April 29, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The NPC session, originally scheduled for March 5, was postponed in February due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement quoted in the report, the NPC committee said the COVID-19 “situation in China is improving steadily and the normal economic and social life is gradually resuming.”

“With various factors taken into consideration, the conditions for convening the NPC annual session at an appropriate time are ready,” the committee said.

The annual session is likely to be attended by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, along with nearly 3,000 delegates from across the country.

No new deaths

China reported 22 new coronavirus cases, almost all of them imported, on Wednesday, with no more deaths anywhere in the country.

The National Health Commission (NHC) said 21 of the 22 people who tested positive for COVID-19 had traveled from overseas.

It said there were no cases or deaths in Hubei province, which was the initial epicenter of outbreak. 

China’s overall case count is now 82,858, including 4,633 deaths and 77,578 recoveries, according to the NHC.

More than 3.12 million people in 185 countries and regions have been infected by the coronavirus since it emerged in China last December, with the highest number in the US and Europe.

A significant proportion of patients — nearly 934,000 — have recovered from COVID-19, but the disease has claimed more than 217,500 lives so far, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the US.

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