Authorities in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, have officially banned the eating of all wild animals, it was announced today.
The local administration in the Chinese city said on Wednesday that along with the consumption ban, Wuhan would become a “wildlife sanctuary” where virtually all hunting of wild animals was banned with the exception of measures for ”scientific research, population regulation, monitoring of epidemic diseases and other special circumstances”.
As part of the ban, the city introduced stringent controls on the breeding of all wild animals, prohibiting any to be reared for food, CBS reported. Wuhan will also join a wider scheme across the country to offer buyouts to farmers who breed wild animals.
Wuhan, a city of 11m people in the Hubei province of China, saw the first cases of COVID-19 late last year.
The origins of the pandemic are still being investigated but one of the suspected sources is the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in the city which included a live animal section reportedly selling more than 30 species of animals including live wolf pups, golden cicadas, scorpions and civets. China closed the market in January.
On the whole, researchers agree that the most plausible explanation is that the virus made the jump from an animal to human in a “zoonotic spillover” event.
China has been under pressure from the global community to tackle its illegal wildlife trade after it was linked to the emergence of zoonotic diseases.
The global death toll is now 318,789 people from the coronavirus, the World Health Organisation reported today. More than 4.7m people have been infected worldwide.