China’s top legislature said it will immediately ban the trade and use of wild animals. With this decision, they want 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. 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 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.
Many academics, environmentalists and residents in China have joined international conservation groups in calling for a permanent ban. The online debate within China has also heavily favored a permanent ban.