Bundaberg Regional Council has postponed an official visit from Chinese sister city Nanning because of global coronavirus fears.
Mayor Jack Dempsey said it was a “responsible decision” to safeguard people’s health while authorities grapple with a possible pandemic.
Media reported on the weekend that China has banned overseas travel by tour groups.
Today it wasn’t clear if that ban applied to official delegations, but Mayor Dempsey said he didn’t want there to be any risk of coronavirus being transmitted to people in the Bundaberg Region.
A group of more than 50 visitors from Nanning was scheduled to visit Bundaberg in February for Chinese New Year celebrations.
The group was to comprise entertainers, students, civic leaders, business representatives and tourists.
Mayor Dempsey has written to his counterpart in Nanning, expressing sadness at news of the virus.
“Our thoughts are with the people of Wuhan and China at this difficult time,” he wrote.
“We understand that travel restrictions are in place to and from Wuhan and these restrictions have been extended to group travel from other parts of China.
“China and Australia Government authorities are recommending caution in travel between our two countries.
“Our overriding concern is for the health and wellbeing of the citizens of Bundaberg and Nanning.”
Mayor Dempsey said he hopes the visit, which was to be fully funded by Nanning, could be rescheduled as soon as practical.
“We’ll be reviewing arrangements for Chinese New Year over the next few days,” he said.
Coronavirus is transmitted between animals and people.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Nanning is one of the Bundaberg Region's sister cities. Last year the Bundaberg Region was honoured with the prestigious Sister Cities Australia award for best overall program, which includes cultural, educational and business exchanges.
Nanning is 1200km from Wuhan but authorities fear that coronavirus may spread through travellers coming into contact.