Port Pirie had close relationship with China's Hubei Province

WORRIED: The concerns about coronavirus in Port Pirie are shared by other Mid North residents. Kapunda family, Roger and Tracy Kalleske and daughter Min, with dog Precious, stay in touch with Chinese friends who are affected by the Coronavirus at Ningbo.

WORRIED: The concerns about coronavirus in Port Pirie are shared by other Mid North residents. Kapunda family, Roger and Tracy Kalleske and daughter Min, with dog Precious, stay in touch with Chinese friends who are affected by the Coronavirus at Ningbo.

Port Pirie has links with the Chinese city at the heart of the international coronavirus health crisis.

The disease hot-spot of Wuhan, in Hubei Province, was involved in diplomatic relations with Port Pirie council.

In the 1990s, then Mayor Ken Madigan visited Wuhan where he was greeted ceremoniously by local Communist Party leaders.

Today, scores of people have died in that city as the coronavirus spreads beyond China to countries including Australia.

The then council forged strong links at the time with the province and had a "sister city" connection with another of the district's cities, Suizhou. The Vice-Governor of Hubei Province, Han Nanping, visited Port Pirie on July 4,1996, while on his way to New Zealand.

Port Pirie's then mayor, Ken Madigan, had met him before during his visits to China in 1995 and 1996 when he twice held banquets in his honour at the Governor's residence in Wuhan, a city of 14 million.

As a guest, the Vice-Governor showed strong interest in Port Pirie and was already well-acquainted with the operation of our smelters.

Hubei is a province of 60 million people and the Vice-Governor was responsible for education, culture and science and technology.

During his stay, he toured the smelters, the tourism and arts centre and both Saint Mark's College and John Pirie Secondary School. He planted a tree in Memorial Park. He was described as a "modest and humble man" impressed with what he saw in Port Pirie.

He was accompanied by Chen Chunlin, the Vice- President with Hubei Province Foreign Affairs Office.

The visit was considered to be a priceless opportunity for South Australia.

Residents who hosted the group say they "feel sorry for the epidemic that the good people of Wuhan are experiencing and offer special sympathy to the many fine friends" made during the exchanges with that city.

Australia will evacuate its citizens from Wuhan where the outbreak began. More than 400 people have died.

The retrieved citizens will be sent to a quarantine station on Christmas Island.

The plan is being developed as the federal government ramps up its response to the spread of coronavirus around the world.

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