Numerous people all around the world are terrified and waiting for governments to issue stricter measures to prevent the spread of COVOD-19, and for scientists to discover a way to fight it.
The novel coronavirus has never been transmitted to people before.
It is suspected that it initially appeared at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, In December 2019, and experts believe that it was initially transmitted to people by pigs, pangolins, and civets, but this is not confirmed.
Since then, public-health and animal-rights advocates are urging for the closure of the “wet markets,” where various live animals are kept in close contact with one another and with people, slaughtered on the spot, and sold.
An infectious-disease specialist at the University of Chicago, Emily Langdon, wrote:
“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. 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.”
Zhang Tiewei, a legislative spokesman, stated that “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 explained that they needed to decide at a „critical moment for epidemic prevention and control.”
The decision was made by the National People’s Congress, which declared that the illegal consumption and trade of wildlife, as well as hunting, trading or transporting wild animals for consumption will be “severely punished”.
The goal of the ban is to limit the exposure to wild animals that might carry viruses people have not encountered and are not able to fight off. When it comes to their use for non-edible purposes, it will be subjected to strict examination, approval and quarantine inspection.
On January 1, officials temporarily closed the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market and banned the live-animal trade at all markets in Wuhan.
Yet, as the virus kept spreading despite this measure, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) passed a more comprehensive ban on Feb. 24.
The sale, purchase, and transport of wild animals in markets, restaurants, and online was temporarily banned.
Officials closed and quarantined all farms that participate in breeding and transporting wildlife animals across China, until the end of the coronavirus epidemic.
According to experts, much of the wildlife trade across the country was already illegal.
Yet, the practice existed as a result of the loopholes in the Wildlife Protection Law, that only prohibits the hunting and selling of endangered species, and its lax enforcement.
The list of protected species contains protected wildlife by law and terrestrial animals that are of “important ecological, scientific and social value,” but it does not involve livestock, poultry, and aquatic animals.
It was reported that a million people are working at China’s wild-meat industry and its value costs $7.1 million, while the larger wild-life industry costs around $74 billion.
Yet, many fear that this ban will push the trade underground, which will, in turn, make it even more challenging to track the emergence of new diseases.
According to a Chinese wildlife-policy researcher, Zhao-Min Zhou:
“A total ban on trading wild animals would criminalize a substantial proportion of the Chinese population, and be untenable.”
He added that he believes if all animal markets are closed, traders will buy on the black market.
It has also been reported that 20,000 farms raising porcupines, ostriches, cats, and geese have been shut down.
Yet, many others agree that the measures can stop or prevent the spread of the virus.
A conservation biologist at Beijing Normal University, Li Zhang, stated that the consumption and trade of wildlife is a threat to both, us and animals. He added that was a sign that the government is taking “immediate action to prevent any future outbreaks of diseases that spread from animals to humans.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that animals transmit three-quarters of a novel or emerging infectious disease.
Zoonotic viruses are commonly transmitted through bat’s poop.
The COVID-19 almost certainly originates from bats, according to genetic evidence, and it was transmitted to another animal, and people then caught the virus at the wildlife market.
Yet, experts are not sure which animals spread the coronavirus to people this time.
National Geographic claims that the pangolins, which are shy nocturnal animals that live in Asia and Africa, are the most trafficked nonhuman species in 2013, and three years later, their trade was made illegal by the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species.
In China, it was already illegal under their Wildlife Protection Law.
Many Japanese academics, environmentalists, and residents, as well as people online, have supported the efforts of international conservation groups for a permanent ban.
Benjamin Neuman, a virologist at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, said:
“If China is able to shut down the illegal animal trade, it will make the world a bit safer from viruses like SARS-CoV, and have a huge impact on wildlife conservation efforts. It’s a thing that needs to happen, and if COVID-19 is the reason, so be it.”