Dr. Fauci: ‘It Boggles My Mind’ China Allows Wet Markets Linked to Viral Outbreaks – Should They Close Permanently?

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Should countries with “wet markets” be pressured to permanently close them to prevent viral outbreaks?

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Shenzhen becomes first Chinese city to ban consumption of cats and dogs

Chinese animal rights activists stage a protest calling for people to refrain from eating cats and dogs.

(CNN)Shenzhen, in southeastern China, has become the first city in the country to ban the consumption of cats and dogs, the government announced Thursday.

Under new rules which will come into effect May 1, the government said it will be illegal to eat animals raised as pets.
In February, following the coronavirus outbreak, China passed a law to ban the consumption of wild animals.
Now Shenzhen will prohibit the consumption of state-protected wild animals and other terrestrial wild animals taken from the wild, as well as captive-bred and farmed terrestrial wild species.
In addition, the consumption of animals raised as pets, such as cats and dogs will also be banned.
Animals that can be consumed include pig, cattle, sheep, donkey, rabbit, chicken, duck, goose, pigeon, quail, as well as aquatic animals who are not banned by other laws or regulations.
“If convicted, they will be subjected to a fine of 30 times of the wild animal’s value, if the animal is above the value of 10,000CNY [$1400 USD],” announced authorities.
The coronavirus outbreak is thought to have started at a wildlife market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and authorities have acknowledged they need to bring the lucrative wildlife industry under control if it is to prevent another outbreak.
However ending the trade will be hard. The cultural roots of China’s use of wild animals run deep, not just for food but also for traditional medicine, clothing, ornaments and even pets.
This isn’t the first time Chinese officials have tried to contain the trade. In 2003, civets — mongoose-type creatures — were banned and culled in large numbers after it was discovered they likely transferred the SARS virus to humans. The selling of snakes was also briefly banned in Guangzhou after the SARS outbreak.
But today dishes using the animals are still eaten in parts of China.

What are the ‘wet markets’ linked to the coronavirus outbreak?

https://www.foxnews.com/world/what-are-the-wet-markets-coronavirus

As medical professionals around the world are searching for ways to stop the coronavirus outbreak, greater scrutiny is being cast on the “wet markets” suspected to have played a role in the initial spread of the sickness.

While rumors have swirled that the virus originated in bats and then infected another animal that passed it onto people at a market in the southeastern Chinese city of Wuhan, scientists have not yet determined exactly how the new coronavirus infected people. But these kinds of markets are known to operate in not the most sanitary conditions.

“You’ve got live animals, so there’s feces everywhere. There’s blood because of people chopping them up,” Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, which works to protect wildlife and public health from emerging diseases, told the Associated Press last month.

Residents wearing face masks purchase seafood at a wet market on Jan. 28 in Macau, China.

Residents wearing face masks purchase seafood at a wet market on Jan. 28 in Macau, China. (Getty Images)

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“Wet markets,” as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, are places “for the sale of fresh meat, fish, and produce.” They also sell an array of exotic animals.

The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, before its closure, advertised dozens of species such as giant salamanders, baby crocodiles and raccoon dogs that were often referred to as wildlife, even when they were farmed, according to the Associated Press.

And like many other “wet markets” in Asia and elsewhere, the animals at the Wuhan market lived in close proximity as they were tied up or stacked in cages.

Animals in “wet markets” are often killed on-site to ensure freshness — yet the messy mix raises the odds that a new virus will jump to people handling the animals and start to spread, experts say.

A vendor sells meat to customers at a market in Beijing on Jan. 15.

A vendor sells meat to customers at a market in Beijing on Jan. 15. (Getty Images)

CORONAVIRUS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW 

“I visited the Tai Po wet market in Hong Kong, and it’s quite obvious why the term ‘wet’ is used,” an NPR reporter wrote about them earlier this year.

“Live fish in open tubs splash water all over the floor. The countertops of the stalls are red with blood as fish are gutted and filleted right in front of the customers’ eyes. Live turtles and crustaceans climb over each other in boxes,” he described. “Melting ice adds to the slush on the floor. There’s lots of water, blood, fish scales and chicken guts. Things are wet.”

COVID-19, like SARS, is a disease that has been traced back to animals. But it’s not the only recent one.

The killing and sale of what is known as bushmeat in Africa is thought to be a source for Ebola. Bird flu likely came from chickens at a market in Hong Kong in 1997. Measles is also believed to have evolved from a virus that infected cattle.

CHINA USES AMERICAN MEDIA TO PUSH CORONAVIRUS PROPAGANDA 

There are signs following the outbreak of the coronavirus that the Chinese government may make more lasting changes to how exotic species are raised and sold. Last month, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said the country should “resolutely outlaw and harshly crackdown” on the illegal wildlife trade because of the public health risks it poses.

Before the outbreak began, it was legal in China to sell 54 species of animals, like pangolins and civets — as long as they were raised on farms. But that made it difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal wildlife in “wet markets”, and enforcement was lax, Jinfeng Zhou of China Biodiversity, Conservation and Green Development Foundation, an environmental group based in Beijing, told the AP.

All told, officials say about 1.5 million markets and online operators nationwide have been inspected since the coronavirus outbreak began. About 3,700 have been shut down, and around 16,000 breeding sites have been cordoned off.

However, even if China successfully regulates or bans it, the wildlife trade is likely to continue elsewhere.

Recent visits to wet markets on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia and in the coastal city of Doula in Cameroon revealed similar conditions to “wet markets” in China, the Associated Press reported. Vendors were slaughtering and grilling bats, dogs, rats, crocodiles and snakes, and sanitary measures were scant.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Chinese firm encourages people to EAT DOGS to show ‘cultural confidence’ as it boycotts drafted law that bars pet meat from the dinner plate in the wake of coronavirus outbreak

  • The claim was made by a firm specialising in making dog meat dishes in China
  • It alleged that lawmakers in Shenzhen drafted the proposal to appease the West
  • It blasted the proposal as a ‘denial to thousands of years of Chinese food culture’
  • Animal activists have urged China to forbid the consumption of dogs for years 
  • The drafted law is currently under assessment by the government of Shenzhen
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

A company specialising in making dog meat dishes has claimed that eating dogs is a way for Chinese people to show their ‘cultural confidence’.

Fankuai Dog Meat from eastern China made the statement in a blog post while protesting against a proposed law which bans people from consuming pets in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The brand claims that lawmakers in the city of Shenzhen drafted the proposal to appease the West.

Fankuai Dog Meat, a company based in eastern China, has claimed that eating dogs is a way for Chinese people to show their 'cultural confidence'. It boycotts a proposal by lawmakers from Shenzhen, which bans the locals from consuming dog meat to improve food safety

Fankuai Dog Meat, a company based in eastern China, has claimed that eating dogs is a way for Chinese people to show their ‘cultural confidence’. It boycotts a proposal by lawmakers from Shenzhen, which bans the locals from consuming dog meat to improve food safety

Volunteer veterinarians treat sick and wounded dogs rescued from a truck heading towards the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in an improvised shelter in Guangzhou, China, on June 22

Volunteer veterinarians treat sick and wounded dogs rescued from a truck heading towards the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in an improvised shelter in Guangzhou, China, on June 22

Fankuai produces a wide range of dishes, including hand-shredded dog meat, spicy dog meat and dog meat braised in a turtle broth.

Based in the county of Pei in Jiangsu Province, the firm is named after an ancient Chinese general who allegedly made his living by butchering dogs in his early years.

The company published the strongly worded article last Thursday to condemn the potential policy from Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong.

The commentary blasted the city’s plan as a ‘denial to thousands of years of Chinese food culture’.

It claimed that relevant officials had stood on the opposite side of the general public and drawn the proposal to appease the West, which is used to ‘bullying’ Chinese culture.

It also said that the proposal represented ‘extreme dog lovers’ and created ‘inharmonious social atmosphere’.

Fankuai blasted Shenzhen's plan as a 'denial to thousands of years of Chinese food culture' in a now-deleted commentary published last Thursday. Pictured above, a man wearing a face mask carries his pet dog on a street in Jiujiang in China's central Jiangxi province on March 6

Fankuai blasted Shenzhen’s plan as a ‘denial to thousands of years of Chinese food culture’ in a now-deleted commentary published last Thursday. Pictured above, a man wearing a face mask carries his pet dog on a street in Jiujiang in China’s central Jiangxi province on March 6

It then argued that people in various Chinese provinces 'have a history of eating dogs for two to three thousand years', therefore the proposal 'strips people of their freedom of eating dog meat'. Pictured above, a Chinese woman holds her dog that is wearing a protective mask

It then argued that people in various Chinese provinces ‘have a history of eating dogs for two to three thousand years’, therefore the proposal ‘strips people of their freedom of eating dog meat’. Pictured above, a Chinese woman holds her dog that is wearing a protective mask

The firm said it supported Beijing’s new law to ban the eating of wild animals, but criticised the Shenzhen authority for extending the restriction ‘infinitely’ to including ‘livestock’.

It then argued that people in various Chinese provinces ‘have a history of eating dogs for two to three thousand years’, therefore the proposal ‘strips people of their freedom of eating dog meat’.

The article went on to allege that the proposition from Shenzhen protected the interests of ‘extreme dog lovers’.

‘Extreme dog lovers are influenced by the extremist thoughts from the West and appease Western rubbish culture without limit,’ it wrote.

The author concluded its criticism by urging Shenzhen not to pass the law.

The post has been removed from the company’s WeChat account after it had sparked an uproar among Chinese animal activists.

The company has refused an interview request from MailOnline on the matter. One representative cited ‘sensitive topics’ as the reason for the rejection.

The annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival is one of the most controversial food festivals in China and sees thousands of dogs cruelly killed, skinned and cooked with blow-torches before being eaten by the locals. The picture shows butchered dogs at a stall in Yulin on June 21, 2018

The annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival is one of the most controversial food festivals in China and sees thousands of dogs cruelly killed, skinned and cooked with blow-torches before being eaten by the locals. The picture shows butchered dogs at a stall in Yulin on June 21, 2018

Animal activists have demanded the Chinese government prohibit the consumption of dogs for years.

The annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival is one of the most controversial food festivals in China and sees thousands of dogs cruelly killed, skinned and cooked with blow-torches before being eaten by the locals.

If this proposal from Shenzhen gets passed, it will be the first of its kind in the country.

Apart from dogs, the proposed act bars snake, frog and turtle meat from the dinner table.

Lawmakers from Shenzhen, a city of around 13 million people, published the proposal on February 25 on its government’s website.

The public had until March 5 to send in their feedback to the document.

Fankuai’s controversial claims came after a Chinese scholar said that the country should ban the eating of dogs and cats completely, not just in Shenzhen, to ‘restore its international image’.

Guo Changgang, an academic from Shanghai, called for Beijing to set up legislation and impose the restriction across the country.

Guo Changgang (pictured), the head of the History Research Centre of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said China should establish a relevant law to protect companion animals

‘The consumption of dog meat and cat meat has never been a social custom that is ‘widely accepted by the people’,’ claimed Mr Guo, the head of the History Research Centre of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

He acknowledged the government’s efforts to crack down on the wildlife trade to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But he hoped that national lawmakers could extend the protection to cover companion animals.

‘Eating wild animals, dog meat and cat meat is one of the important elements that damage China’s international image,’ he wrote on news app Toutiao.

At least 4,380 people have died and more than 121,800 have contracted the disease globally

A man wears a mask as he looks at an empty St. Peter's Square after the Vatican erected a new barricade at the edge of the square on Tuesday. Italy entered its first day under a nationwide lockdown after a government decree extended restrictions on movement to the whole nation

A man wears a mask as he looks at an empty St. Peter’s Square after the Vatican erected a new barricade at the edge of the square on Tuesday. Italy entered its first day under a nationwide lockdown after a government decree extended restrictions on movement to the whole nation

People wearing masks sit in a subway train in Milan, Italy, on Wednesday. In Italy, the government extended a coronavirus containment order previously limited to the country's north to the rest of the country beginning Tuesday, with soldiers and police enforcing bans

People wearing masks sit in a subway train in Milan, Italy, on Wednesday. In Italy, the government extended a coronavirus containment order previously limited to the country’s north to the rest of the country beginning Tuesday, with soldiers and police enforcing bans

China’s top legislative committee last month passed new legislation to ban all trade and consumption of wild animals.

Beijing is yet to revise its wild animal protection law, but the passage of the proposal was ‘essential’ and ‘urgent’ in helping the country win its war against the epidemic, wrote state newspaper People’s Daily.

The exact source of the novel coronavirus remains unconfirmed. Scientists speculate that it originated in bats, snakes, pangolins, or some other animal.

In China alone, the health crisis has claimed at least 3,158 lives and infected more than 80,900 people.

And globally, at least 4,380 people have died and more than 121,800 have contracted the disease. More than 100 countries are now trying to contain the contagion.

Experts from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said tests proved that humans caught the virus from animals at the Huanan Seafood Wholesales Market.

Coronavirus crisis declared pandemic by World Health Organisation

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Coronavirus: Space images reveal drastic fall in pollution over China as factories closed

‘This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,’ says Nasa scientist

Satellite images show a dramatic drop in pollution over China after the coronavirus outbreak shut down swathes of the country’s industry and travel.

US space agency Nasa said the change was at least partly related to the economic slowdown caused by efforts to contain the virus.

Nasa maps show how levels of nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas from vehicles, power plants and factories, plummeted after the mass quarantine, compared with before.

Scientists have previously found the coronavirus wiped out at least a quarter of China’s emissions of damaging greenhouse gases in just two weeks in mid-February.

Closing industrial plants and asking people to stop at home has led to sharp drops in the burning of fossil fuels — a key cause of the climate crisis — in the world’s largest greenhouse gas producer.

Pollution levels in January contrast with those in February (Nasa)

China, where the outbreak began, has nearly 80,000 cases of coronavirus, by far the largest number of any country, with nearly 2,900 deaths.

Nasa’s maps compare pollution levels between the first three weeks of the year and 10-25 February.

The space agency’s scientists said the fall in pollution was first apparent near Wuhan, the source of the outbreak, but eventually spread across the country.

“This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” said Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre.

She said she had seen a decline in nitrogen dioxide levels during the economic recession of 2008 but said that decrease was more gradual.

This year, pollution levels did not rise again after Chinese new year, unlike last year (Nasa)

 

Coronavirus outbreak may spur Southeast Asian action on wildlife trafficking

by Imelda Abano on 4 March 2020

Illegal wildlife trafficking remains a perennial problem in Southeast Asia, but with the ongoing spread of the new coronavirus, there’s added impetus for governments in the region to clamp down on the illicit trade.
The coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, has infected more than 90,000 people worldwide and killed more than 3,000, according to the World Health Organization.
Initial findings, though not conclusive, have linked the virus to pangolins, the most trafficked mammal on Earth and one of the mainstays of the illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia that feeds the Chinese market.
Despite having a regional cooperation framework designed to curb wildlife trafficking, Southeast Asian governments have yet to agree on and finance a sustainability plan to strengthen efforts against the illegal trade.

MANILA — Governments across Southeast Asia have vowed to strengthen cooperation in curbing the illegal wildlife trade, suspected to have sparked the novel coronavirus epidemic. The issue will be at the top of the agenda at the Biodiversity Conference in Kuala Lumpur later this month.

“What needs to be enhanced is more collaboration to address wildlife trafficking at a multi-country or at the regional level,” said Theresa Mundita-Lim of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), an institute under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. “The region is ready to step up efforts to curb illegal wildlife trade.”

As of March 3, there were 90,893 reported cases of the coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, around the world, with 3,110 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Cases have been reported in 80 countries, but the majority are in China. The virus is believed to have originated from a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan that sold exotic live mammals, including bats and civets — previously linked to the spread of a similar disease, SARS, in 2002.

In the less than three months since the first case was detected last December, the WHO has raised the epidemic’s global risk assessment to “very high.” Various countries have declared public health emergencies, imposed travel bans, and implemented strict quarantine stations in efforts to contain the virus. Disruptions to tourism, aviation, manufacturing and other economic activity are expected to throttle back global economic growth from a projected 2.9% this year to 2.4%, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

With China’s recent move to ban the wildlife trade and consumption, officials say it’s about time ASEAN unify against wildlife trafficking, especially as reports point to a sophisticated network of illegal wildlife trade routes from Southeast Asia to China’s wildlife markets.

As early as 2003, the region started exploring solutions to wildlife trafficking after Thailand admitted to being a wildlife trade hub, open source data fusion center Analytical Center of Excellence on Trafficking
(ACET) says in its latest report. With China entering the crackdown a decade later, Southeast Asia has seen an increase in reported cases, and thousands of seizures, arrests and prosecutions.
A sunda pangolin (Manis javanensis) is a species native to Southeast Asia. Image by Dan Challender/Save Vietnam’s Wildlife

This, however, has not been enough for the region to support a sustainability plan against wildlife trafficking, which involves each member state committing $15,000 a year. The stalemate is due in part to the bloc’s consensus voting rule. “As ASEAN is based on consensus, it only takes one out of ten members to veto a motion,” the report says.
“For nine years, Malaysia cast that vote of opposition. When Malaysia finally agreed to join the majority to support a sustainability plan, a new and surprising vote of opposition appeared: Thailand.”

But as the COVID-19 epidemic spreads, it might tip the scales and prompt ASEAN governments to support the sustainability plan and implement stringent policies to protect native species. This would also be in line with stronger measures that governments are expected to take after the lapse of the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, including the creation of heritage parks and protected areas.

“Actions on transboundary cooperation and promoting sustainable livelihoods in and around ASEAN heritage parks and natural habitats will help stop the reliance of local communities to poaching, overharvesting and illegal trading of wildlife and their by-products as means to earn income,” Mundita-Lim said.

Among the animals that need to be protected are the little-known pangolins, the most trafficked mammal in the world and which have been identified as a possible vector of the coronavirus. Recent studies have found high genomic similarities between the novel coronavirus and a virus found in pangolins, but these studies remain inconclusive. Being linked to the epidemic, however, increases the threats to these docile species as people might kill them en masse — similar to what happened to civets after the SARS outbreak, Nature reports.

Populations of these scaly mammals in the region have dwindled drastically due to heavy poaching activities in the past two decades, according to the international wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC.
A TRAFFIC report released last month estimated that around 895,000 pangolins were smuggled in Southeast Asia from 2000 to 2019.
Range of the four Asia pangolin species: the Chinese, Indian, Sunda and Philippine pangolins. A mix of colors within the maps indicates an overlap in the different species’ distributions. The species’ ranges are based on the IUCN Red List assessments (IUCN 2014). Note: The distribution maps are currently being updated by the IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group. Image courtesy of University of Adelaide/TRAFFIC.
Image courtesy of University of Adelaide/TRAFFIC

There are eight pangolin species in the world, four native to Africa and four to Asia. All the Asian species are declared critically endangered by the IUCN, including the two species native to Southeast Asia: the Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) and the Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis).

Populations of both the Sunda and the Philippine pangolins remain unknown but are assumed to be decreasing rapidly. In Palawan province, the only place where the Philippine pangolin occurs, only 17 individuals were spotted in a 2019 survey that covered 2,400 hectares (5,930 acres) of the 165,000-hectare (407,700-acre) Victoria-Anepahan mountain range in the town of Rizal. The survey, part of USAID’s Protect Wildlife project, noted the decline in pangolin sightings in the province.

“Pangolin poaching and trafficking continue as long as there is a demand from active buyers, both foreign and local,” the report says, adding that limited information on pangolins “hampers the ability of conservationists and local authorities to establish proper baselines for protecting the remaining pangolin strongholds in the wild.”

Reports of rampant trafficking prompted international wildlife trade regulator CITES to bump pangolins into the highest bracket of protection in 2016 by banning all international trade in the species. In spite of this, however, trafficking of pangolins and pangolin parts (scales, meat and blood) continue; the biggest and most recent seizure was of 9 tons of pangolin scales, taken from approximately 14,000 pangolins from Africa, and intercepted in Hong Kong in early 2019.

Prior to the ban, pangolins were openly shipped in the region, often smuggled alongside parts from tigers and hawksbill sea turtles, both threatened species. “Pangolins were sourced and openly shipped from Indonesia, with smaller loads gathered in Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and the Philippines,” ACET’s latest report states. “Since prices in pangolins were modest, the volume of trade was also relatively low and seemingly sustainable.”

The trafficking ring in the region follows an intricate maze, ACET’s report says, with animals sourced from Indonesia and Malaysia transiting through Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam until it enters China.
“Live animals and body parts were sent to Yunnan and Guangdong by road, ship and eventually by air to Kunming, Guangzhou and Hong Kong,” the report says.
A pangolin, meaning the “one who rolls up” in Malay, balls up in its characteristic defensive posture. Image courtesy of Priyan Perera

The illicit trade has since been intertwined with that of illegal drugs and other contraband, making it challenging for security forces to crack down on shipments. Indonesian authorities described the region’s illegal wildlife trade as being as sophisticated as the drug trade, according to the Global Environmental Reporting Collective’s The Pangolin Reports.

In the Philippines, the Palawan Center for Sustainable Development
(PCSD) has identified a transnational route that starts at the port of Balabac in southern Palawan and heads north to the island of Mindoro and across to the port of Batangas before exiting the archipelago.

While crackdowns on illegal wildlife trafficking continue on a top-down model, groups on the ground have also initiated efforts to engage communities against poaching not just of pangolins but other trafficked mammals in the region.

“Communities can be front-liners in the fight against poaching of pangolins and wildlife by organizing community-based efforts to protect their forests, support enforcers on the ground, and advocate for and spread the word about the importance of protecting wildlife and their habitats,” said Rebecca Paz, chief of party for USAID’s Protect Wildlife project. “We also need to look into boosting opportunities for viable and sustainable livelihoods in these communities to dissuade them from engaging in illegal practices that are harming wildlife and other natural resources.”

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/03/coronavirus-outbreak-may-spur-southeast-asian-action-on-wildlife-trafficking/

The Two Dark Sides of COVID-19

  , 

Historically, tragedies such as the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic have sometimes led to important changes. The probable source of the new coronavirus – so-called wet markets, at which live animals are sold and slaughtered before customers’ eyes – should be banned not only in China, but worldwide.

PRINCETON – The apocalyptic images of the locked-down Chinese city of Wuhan have reached us all. The world is holding its breath over the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, and governments are taking or preparing drastic measures that will necessarily sacrifice individual rights and freedoms for the general good.

Some focus their anger on China’s initial lack of transparency about the outbreak. The philosopher Slavoj Žižek has spoken of “the racist paranoia” at work in the obsession with COVID-19 when there are many worse infectious diseases from which thousands die every day. Those prone to conspiracy theories believe that the virus is a biological weapon aimed at China’s economy. Few mention, let alone confront, the underlying cause of the epidemic.

Both the 2003 SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic and the current one can be traced to China’s “wet markets” – open-air markets where animals are bought live and then slaughtered on the spot for the customers. Until late December 2019, everyone affected by the virus had some link to Wuhan’s Huanan Market.

At China’s wet markets, many different animals are sold and killed to be eaten: wolf cubs, snakes, turtles, guinea pigs, rats, otters, badgers, and civets. Similar markets exist in many Asian countries, including Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

In tropical and subtropical areas of the planet, wet markets sell live mammals, poultry, fish, and reptiles, crammed together and sharing their breath, their blood, and their excrement. As US National Public Radio journalist Jason Beaubien recently reported: “Live fish in open tubs splash water all over the floor. The countertops of the stalls are red with blood as fish are gutted and filleted right in front of the customers’ eyes. Live turtles and crustaceans climb over each other in boxes. Melting ice adds to the slush on the floor. There’s lots of water, blood, fish scales, and chicken guts.” Wet markets, indeed.

Scientists tell us that keeping different animals in close, prolonged proximity with one another and with people creates an unhealthy environment that is the probable source of the mutation that enabled COVID-19 to infect humans. More precisely, in such an environment, a coronavirus long present in some animals underwent rapid mutation as it changed from nonhuman host to nonhuman host, and ultimately gained the ability to bind to human cell receptors, thus adapting to the human host.

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This evidence prompted China, on January 26, to impose a temporary ban on wildlife animal trade. It is not the first time that such a measure has been introduced in response to an epidemic. Following the SARS outbreak China prohibited the breeding, transport, and sale of civets and other wild animals, but the ban was lifted six months later.

Today, many voices are calling for a permanent shutdown of “wildlife markets.” Zhou Jinfeng, head of China’s Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, has urged that “illegal wildlife trafficking” be banned indefinitely and has indicated that the National People’s Congress is discussing a bill to outlaw trade in protected species. Focusing on protected species, however, is a ploy to divert public attention away from the appalling circumstances in which animals in wet markets are forced to live and die. What the world really needs is a permanent ban on wet markets.

For the animals, wet markets are hell on earth. Thousands of sentient, palpitating beings endure hours of suffering and anguish before being brutally butchered. This is just one small part of the suffering that humans systematically inflict on animals in every country – in factory farms, laboratories, and the entertainment industry.

If we stop to reflect on what we are doing – and mostly we do not – we are prone to justify it by appealing to the alleged superiority of our species, in much the same way that white people used to appeal to the alleged superiority of their race to justify their subjection of “inferior” humans. But at this moment, when vital human interests so clearly run parallel to the interests of nonhuman animals, this small part of the suffering we inflict on animals offers us the opportunity for a change of attitudes toward members of non-human species.

To achieve a ban on wet markets, we will have to overcome some specific cultural preferences, as well as resistance linked to the fact that a ban would cause economic hardship to those who make their living from the markets. But, even without giving nonhuman animals the moral consideration they deserve, these localized concerns are decisively outweighed by the calamitous impact that ever more frequent global epidemics (and perhaps pandemics) will have.

Martin Williams, a Hong Kong-based writer specializing in conservation and the environment, puts it well: “As long as such markets exist, the likelihood of other new diseases emerging will remain. Surely, it is time for China to close down these markets. In one fell swoop, it would be making progress on animal rights and nature conservation, while reducing the risk of a ‘made in China’ disease harming people worldwide.”

But we would go further. Historically, tragedies have sometimes led to important changes. Markets at which live animals are sold and slaughtered should be banned not only in China, but all over the world.

China reports bird flu outbreak near epicenter of coronavirus

China has detected an outbreak of the bird flu near the epicenter of the lethal coronavirus, in line with a report.

The bird flu outbreak was reported Saturday in Hunan, which borders the province of Hubei the place the coronavirus broke out final month, in line with the South China Morning Submit.

“The outbreak occurred in a farm within the Shuangqing district of Shaoyang metropolis,” officers mentioned. “The farm has 7,850 chickens, and 4,500 of the chickens have died from the contagion.”

The deadly sickness — referred to as H5N1 virus — causes “a extremely infectious, extreme respiratory illness in birds,” in line with the World Well being Group.

The flu could be transmitted to people, however there have been no reports of anybody with the sickness, the outlet mentioned.

The outbreak comes as Chinese language authorities work to comprise the brand new coronavirus pressure, which has killed greater than 300 individuals.

Chinese government approves decision to ban consumption of wild animals

 February 24, 2020

Guards patrol on January 24 outside the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, believed to be the source of the virus.
Guards patrol on January 24 outside the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, believed to be the source of the virus. Credit: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

https://www.cnn.com/asia/live-news/coronavirus-outbreak-02-24-20-hnk-intl/h_e9e7718ef4bebc5ffe32d35e32c4469f

China’s top political body approved the decision on Monday to ban the consumption and the illegal trade of wild animals, which some experts believe to be the source of the virus.

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee approved the ban on Monday in a bid to help “safeguard public health and ecological security,” according to Chinese state media.

The move aims to “completely ban the eating of wild animals” while also “cracking down on illegal trade of wildlife,” state media reports.

The use of wild animals for scientific research, medicine and exhibition will now need to go through “strict examination and approval” by the supervising department in accordance with relevant regulations.

This comes after Chinese authorities suspended the trade of wild animals on January 26th in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

Also see: https://vegnews.com/2020/2/china-permanently-bans-consumption-of-wild-animals?fbclid=IwAR3noVYTbMnI6IaIkhjREWQSrrA6CW1x95E39D9cZlSdRAIKokPVMFQAD1E

Chinese community officers ‘beat stray dogs to death to prevent them from spreading coronavirus’ 

A group of Chinese community officers have been accused of beating stray dogs to death in broad daylight in the name of preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus which has killed 1,018 people.

In a video supplied to MailOnline by animal lovers, one worker can be seen repeatedly hitting a pooch with a huge wooden club.

The horrifying incident took place this morning at a residential complex in the city of Nanchong in Sichuan Province, according to activists.

Two stray dogs were killed at around 9am near Wenfeng Road, Nanchong Stray Animal Rescue said.

MailOnline has decided not to show the footage of the attack due to its graphic nature.

A separate clip shows workers taking away the dogs’ dead bodies after killing them.

The group told MailOnline that residents of the complex, Guibi Garden, were informed yesterday by the community officers that no pet dogs would be allowed outside.

‘As long as [we]see a dog in the complex, no matter if it is on the lead or not, we will beat it to death,’ the officers were quoted saying.

The group condemned the officers’ ‘atrocious’ act.

‘At the crucial point of fighting the epidemic, the management office and community officers should have disinfected the neighbourhood, recorded information of visitors, supervised suspected patients under quarantine, or even given care to the psychological stress and trauma residents got from the epidemic.

‘But instead, [they]ignored citizens’s love and appeal for animals and killed lives at will without giving notice or seeking permission.’

Nanchong Stray Animal Rescue demanded relevant officers halt their act immediately.

‘Before the matter escalates, please stop the atrocity of harming animals,’ it wrote on its official account on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter.

One volunteer from the group told MailOnline that it was hard for him and other animal lovers to get to the scene in a timely fashion because the residential complex would not let outsiders enter easily during the outbreak.

He said the two dogs had been healthy and obedient, and that kind residents had fed them an hour before the incident.

The volunteer also showed MailOnline a notice issued by local authorities in response to the matter.

Officials of Nanhu Committee, which supervised the complex, denied online allegations.

They claimed that the video showed the workers culling a stray dog which had bitten some residents and caused panic in the community.

The statement thanked netizens’ understanding and said the workers in question had been reprimanded for killing the animal. It stated that the dog should have been taken to a shelter instead.

The news comes after communities around the country allegedly ordered citizens to get rid of their pets – or risk having them culled – amid fears that animals could also pick up the deadly disease.

World Health Organization (WHO), however, says that it has not seen any evidence of the virus being passed onto cats or dogs.

The widespread fears were sparked by comments made by one of China’s top experts for infectious diseases.

Prof. Li Lanjuan, a member of the senior expert team from China’s National Health Commission, last month warned that pets would also need to be quarantined should they be exposed to coronavirus patients.

Authorities in China are now trying desperately to stop people from throwing away their pets.

Animal welfare organisation Humane Society International (HSI) condemned the Chinese workers’ behaviour.

HSI’s spokesperson Wendy Higgins said: ‘Any evidence of animals being beaten to death in the street is extremely distressing, no matter what the circumstances.

‘If these videos do indeed show dogs being brutally killed in China out of an unwarranted fear of spreading coronavirus, then it is doubly upsetting.

‘Community officers should be charged with disseminating accurate and scientifically supported information to the public at this time, not in carrying out cruel and pointless culls of dogs.

‘The advice by the World Health Organisation that there is no evidence dogs and cats can be infected with the virus, needs to be heard throughout China.’

Apart from the coronavirus, the city of Nanchong is also fighting bird flu.

China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on Sunday reported that 1,840 out of the 2,497 domesticated birds on a farm in Xichong County were killed by the H5N6 strain of avian influenza.

Local authorities culled 2,261 birds as a result and safely disposed their carcasses – as well as those of the birds killed by the influenza – according to the notice.

The Ministry did not specify on which day the outbreak happened.

The coronavirus epidemic has so far claimed more than 1,018 lives and infected more than 43,130 people in 28 countries and territories around the world – but nearly 99 per cent of infections have been in China.

A total of 103 people died in a single day in China’s Hubei province on Monday – the highest toll recorded in any one 24-hour period since the outbreak began in December.

It comes the same day as WHO experts and scientists have finally arrived in China to help officials there contain and study the outbreak which has now struck at least 42,729 people worldwide.

Chinese community officers ‘beat stray dogs to death to prevent them from spreading coronavirus’