Jan 27th- The outbreak of a new virus linked to a wildlife market in central China has prompted a temporary nationwide ban on selling wild animals amid renewed calls for enforcement of existing laws against the trade in and consumption of exotic species. The new restrictions ban the transport and sale of wild animals, specifically barring markets, supermarkets, restaurants and e-commerce platforms from trading in any form.
President Xi Jinping said during a politburo meeting on Saturday that China was facing a “grave situation”, as health authorities around the world scrambled to prevent a pandemic. The virus, believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife, has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France and Canada.
China confirmed 20,500 cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus as of Feb. 4, while the death toll from the virus has risen to 427. The outbreak has prompted widening curbs on movements within China, with Wuhan, a city of 11 million, on virtual lockdown, with transports links all-but severed except for emergency vehicles.
China remains a major consumer of wild and endangered animals for meat, as well as for traditional medicine. Medical and wildlife experts hope this epidemic will help to change attitudes.