The nation’s legislature banned selling, buying, and eating wild animals in order to prevent zoonotic diseases form jumping from animals to people this Monday.
This type of coronavirus has never been transmitted to people before. Until now it has killed more than 2,700 people and experts claim it was transmitted to humans by civets, pigs, or pangolins. It first occurred at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China
Zhang Tiewei, a legislative spokesman, said:
“There has been a growing concern among people over the consumption of wild animals and the hidden dangers it brings to public health security since the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.”
He added that the decision was made at a „critical moment for epidemic prevention and control.”
China banned eating, buying, and selling wild animals
The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market was closed on January 1 by the officials. Additionally, authorities have forbidden the live-animal trade at all markets in the city.
Soon after, Chinese authorities prohibited selling, buying, and transporting wild animals in restaurants, markets, and online marketplaces temporarily. Farms that participate in breeding and transporting wildlife animals across China were shut down and quarantined. Xinhua News reported that all the farms and marketplaces will be closed until the coronavirus epidemic ends.
Experts claim much of the wildlife trade across China was already illegal. The problem begins with the regulation of China’s Wildlife Protection Law that only bans the hunting and selling of endangered species but doesn’t protect all animals. This practice persisted due to legal loopholes and lax enforcement because of the online purchase of exotic wild animals and inconsistencies in species ‘names.
The Chinese Communist Party is ready to detain the illegal wildlife markets before the new ban was initiated. In response to the outbreak, they trade across the country to recognize „shortcomings”.
It is still unclear which animals are on the list of protected species. According to China’s People’s daily, the list covers wildlife that is protected by the law already and other terrestrial animals that are of “important ecological, scientific and social value.” However, the law doesn’t apply to livestock, poultry, and aquatic animals.
Shutting down a multibillion-dollar industr
Nature reported 1 million people are working at China’s wild-meat industry and its value costs $7.1 million. A report by the Chinese Academy of Engineering suggests that the value if the larger wild-life industry is roughly $74 billion.
A Chinese wildlife-policy researcher, Zhao-Min Zhou, claims: “A total ban on trading wild animals would criminalize a substantial proportion of the Chinese population, and be untenable.”
He also explained that traders will start purchasing on the black market if all animal markets shutter.
Another report adds that the Chinese authorities have shut down 20,000 farms raising porcupines, ostriches, cats, and geese after the outbreak began.
However, many experts approve these measures that will prevent or even stop the spreading of the coronavirus.
A conservation biologist at Beijing Normal University, Li Zhang, said:
“The government has signaled that it wants to take immediate action to prevent any future outbreaks of diseases that spread from animals to humans.”
He made it clear that wildlife consumption and trade will increase the risk of endangering public health and it is also a direct threat to animals.
This happens because shoppers and vendors are pretty close to living and dead animals in the so-called wet markets. Therefore, people are extremely exposed to zoonotic diseases.
“For cultural reasons in the region, people want to see the specific animals they’re buying be slaughtered in front of them, so they know they’re receiving the products they paid for,”, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Chicago Emily Langdon, wrote in an article. “That means there’s a lot of skinning of dead animals in front of shoppers and, as a result, aerosolizing of all sorts of things.”
Animals are caring 75% of emerging infectious diseases
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three-quarters of a novel or emerging infectious diseases are from animals. And not all animals are that infectious. Bets, however, transmit a significantly higher proportion of zoonotic viruses. The most common way zoonotic viruses are transmitted is through bat’s poop. If another animal eats from the fruit that has bat’s feces, that animal can become a carrier.
The novel coronavirus almost certainly originated in bats and then transferred to another animal, according to genetic evidence. Then, people at the wildlife market caught the virus and it started spreading. Another coronavirus known by the name SARS originated in bats and then transferred to civets which then transferred to people at the wet market. The SARS coronavirus also first appeared in a Chinese wildlife market between 2002 and 2003 that infected over 8,000 people and killed 774.
Experts can’t say for sure which animal transmitted the new coronavirus from bats to people. They have floated many possible transmitters such as pigs, pangolins, civets, and snakes (unlikely). Pangolins are roasted and eaten in Vietnam, China, and parts of West Africa. Chinese use their scales as traditional medicine.
According to National Geographic, the most trafficked nonhuman species in 2013 were pangolins. After three years, in 2016, the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species declared them illegal.
In China, the trade and consumption of pangolins were already illegal under their Wildlife Protection Law.