WUHAN eventually banned the sale of bats and other wild meat amid fears that the coronavirus would come from one of the city’s bizarre food markets.
The municipal government of the Chinese city announced today a complete ban on eating all wild animals and hunting and trading in wildlife.
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It has published a list of strict new rules that will take effect immediately and last for at least the next five years.
According to the official statement, there will be a ban on selling and eating terrestrial wild animals that are both wild or raised for the dinner table for dishes like bat soup.
Wuhan also announced a total ban on wildlife hunting, stating that the entire city is now “a wildlife sanctuary”.
There will also be bans on raising aquatic wild animals – such as frogs – for food and bans on wildlife trade in markets and online.
“This notice will come into force on the date of its promulgation and will be valid for five years,” said the press release.
Boris Johnson’s fiancée Carrie Symonds welcomed the news of the ban: “Hopefully that remains the case.”
Wuhan is now the fourth Chinese city to ban the dangerous practice of selling wild animals for food.
The World Health Organization has already pointed to the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the city for the killer epidemic.
He said that many of the first victims of the virus were booth owners, employees or regular buyers.
The WHO said tests on samples indicated that it was the cause of the epidemic or had “played a role in the initial amplification”.
Huanan market had a section of wild animals where live and slaughtered species were sold for food, including snakes, frogs, beavers, porcupines and even baby crocodiles.
The close interactions with wild animals have caused many outbreaks of human disease, including Ebola, Sars and HIV.
Viruses can be spread more easily if market animals are sick or kept in dirty and cramped conditions, such as in stacked cages.
When animals are under duress, viral pathogens can mix, exchange pieces of their genetic code and possibly mutate to make them more transmissible between species.
In respiratory illnesses – like Covid-19 – the virus can spread to food handlers or buyers by being exposed to an animal’s body fluids.
Initial studies have shown that the new strain of coronavirus originated from bats, but scientists tried to find which animal then transferred it to humans.
Various studies have so far linked pangolins, stray dogs and snakes to the cause of the deadly epidemic which has so far claimed more than 300,000 lives.
The search for the source of the virus has become more complex since US-China relations deteriorated following President Trump’s assertion that it came from a laboratory.
Trump has repeatedly told the media that he has “evidence” that the virus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
But China has responded to the allegations with its own conspiracy theory, claiming that American soldiers may be responsible for the epidemic.
The news of the ban comes as it is revealed that more than 500,000 people in Wuhan may have been infected with Covid-19.
The shock figure comes after an antibody sample showed a positive “five to six percent” rate in the city.
With a population of 11 million in Wuhan, the results suggest that more than half a million people in the city could already have been hit.
Meanwhile, the city under fire has already examined more than half of its population – including half a million tests in a single day this week.
Figures released by the Wuhan Health Commission showed that 467,847 nucleic acid tests were performed on Monday.
The number of tests was higher than the 335,887 conducted a day earlier as part of the health authority’s ambitious campaign to test each of its residents by May 24.
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Described as a “10-day battle,” the mass testing initiative began on May 14, with the central municipal government instructing the 13 districts to find their own method of testing each resident within its borders.
Millions of people line up inside gated communities, where parks and public squares are used as makeshift assembly points and buffering stations.
Each COVID-19 test lasts about three minutes, while the procedure is free to the public, officials said.