Next coronavirus “around the corner” if wet markets don’t close, politicians warn

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Animal rights groups are increasing pressure on countries to close their wet markets as the Chinese-made coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc around the world.

Friends of Animals says it has sent letters to heads of the World Health Organization and the United Nations urging their member countries to shut down unhealthy businesses, while PETA draws attention to the problem through the publication of ‘a new video allegedly showing flies crawling snake flesh and the potential cross-contamination that occurs in markets in Indonesia and Thailand.

“The next pandemic will be imminent as long as sick and stressed animals are crammed into blood-soaked meat markets,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.

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Wet markets sell fresh meat, fish, produce, and a range of exotic animals. But experts warned that because the animals are kept close to each other and are killed on the spot to ensure freshness – the markets run the risk of becoming fertile ground for new viruses.

“It bothers me to see how, when we have so many diseases that emanate from this unusual human-animal interface, that we just don’t shut it down,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, member of the Coronavirus Working Group. the White House at Fox & Friends’ last week. “I don’t know what else has to happen to make us appreciate this. “

And the concern is also shared by members of Congress.

The office of Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., told Fox News on Wednesday that he would send a letter co-signed by Senator Cory Booker, DN.J. and other colleagues asking for the Chinese ambassador to the United States. United to put pressure on his government against the reopening of the wet markets there. The letter comes as the Chinese city of Wuhan – where the coronavirus originates – lifted its 76-day lockout.

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Meanwhile, PETA Asia said on Tuesday that it had asked health ministers from Indonesia, Thailand and “other Asian countries to close the wet markets there, but has yet to receive a response.”

Animal Friends goes even further by addressing their concerns to the WHO and the UN.

“The world’s” wet markets “have consumed millions of wild animals for too long and endangered the health of the entire planet. And why? So could someone eat from the flesh of an exotic animal? Priscilla Feral, director of the Connecticut-based group, wrote in a letter to WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Why should civil society tolerate such extreme risks to satisfy self-decay?”

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The letter says “given the catastrophic events of the past few months, we are seeking to encourage WHO to become more proactive. We encourage WHO to launch a vigorous campaign to persuade its member countries to close these famous animal markets. “

In a similar message to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres last week, Feral wrote that “reputable scientists have repeatedly warned of the dangers of the emergence of pandemics in these foul markets. “

But some say that closing the wet markets would create new problems for those who shop there.

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“Banning wet markets will not only be impossible, but it will also be destructive to urban food security in China, as they play a vital role in ensuring urban residents have access to affordable and healthy food,” said Dr. Zhenzhong Si, researcher. associated with the University of Canada at Waterloo, said Bloomberg News.

The website reports that from Wednesday, the Baishazhou wet market in Wuhan is open again with a sign saying “no slaughter or sale of live animals”. Huanan Seafood’s wholesale market in Wuhan, which is suspected of being the zero point for coronavirus, remains closed.

Joshua Nelson of Fox News contributed to this report.

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