• ITV Meridian's Malcolm Shaw reports from Brighton:

Celebrations have been taking place across the South this weekend to mark the Chinese New Year.

Celebrations in Southampton Credit: Sid Qian

In Southampton, around 1000 people celebrated the new year as they watched a parade through the city, along with displays outside the Guildhall.

2020 is the Year of the Rat, an animal that symbolises wealth and success.

Credit: ITV Meridian

In Brighton, thousands of Chinese students from the country study at the two universities there.

The Chinese Educational Development Project organised celebrations to mark the New Year.

Alexander Wu, Executive Chairman, Chinese Culture Centre in Brighton Credit: ITV Meridian

A rat is not the dirty, filthy animal you think. They are gold - which brings good fortune, money, wealth and popularity."

Alexander Wu, Executive Chairman, Chinese Culture Centre
  • Watch: Celebrations in Brighton and Southampton

In China itself, New Year celebrations have been scaled down for fear that large crowds could increase the spread of the coronavirus which has now claimed more than 50 lives.

People in the Meridian region with family in China say they're keeping in contact with loved ones and remaining positive.

We all have family and friends who live in China and they're going through this. So we are keeping close communication to see what is happening in China. It is very sad and I think most people are trying to keep up a positive spirit."

Yan Zhang, Trustee, CEDP Chinese Centre