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China bans trade, consumption of wild animals due to coronavirus

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 23: A Chinese man wears a protective mask as he rides his bike on February 23, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of the deadly new coronavirus COVID-19 being treated in China was more than 55000 in mainland China Saturday, in what hat the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global public health emergency. China continued to lock down the city of Wuhan in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts have confirmed can be passed from human to human. In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities have maintained and in some cases tightened the travel restrictions on the city which is the epicentre of the virus and also in municipalities in other parts of the country affecting tens of millions of people. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to over 2348 on Saurday mostly in Hubei province, and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, India, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and several others. The World Health Organization has warned all governments to be on alert and screening has been stepped up at airports around the world. Some countries, including the United States, have put restrictions on Chinese travellers entering and advised their citizens against travel to China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
By Reuters
25 Feb 2020 0

HONG KONG, Feb 25 (Reuters) - China's top legislature said it will immediately ban the trade and consumption of wild animals, in a fast-track decision it says will allow the country to win the battle against the coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement, made late on Monday according to the official Xinhua News Agency, comes after an initial suspension of the trade and consumption of wildlife in January.

Scientists suspect, but have not proven, that the new coronavirus passed to humans from animals. The disease has now killed almost 2,700 people in China and spread to countries around the globe.

Some of the earliest infections were found in people who had exposure to a wildlife market in Hubei’s provincial capital Wuhan, where bats, snakes, civets and other animals were sold.

“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,” said Zhang Tiewei, a spokesman for the top legislature’s Legislative Affairs Commission.

Zhang said it was both urgent and necessary for the decision to be made at the “critical moment for the epidemic prevention and control”.

The decision, made by the National People’s Congress, stipulates the illegal consumption and trade of wildlife will be “severely punished” as will be hunting, trading or transporting wild animals for the purpose of consumption.

The use of wild animals for non-edible purposes, including scientific research, medical use and display, will be subject to strict examination, approval and quarantine inspection.

Prior to the announcement, traders legally selling donkey, dog, deer, crocodile and other meat told Reuters they planned to get back to business as soon as the markets reopen.

Many academics, environmentalists and residents in China have joined international conservation groups in calling for a permanent ban. Online debate within China has also heavily favoured a permanent ban.

(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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