The World Health Organization (WHO) is urging food markets to ban the sale of live animals – more than one year after the first COVID-19 outbreak.
In its latest report, WHO called on national competent authorities to take six actions to reduce public health risks.
Ban sale of live animals
The first action is to ‘suspend the trade in live caught wild animals of mammalian species for food or breeding purposes and close sections of food markets selling live caught wild animals of mammalian species as an emergency measure’.
However, the WHO says there are exceptions if ‘effective regulations and adequate risk assessment are in place’.
“Significant problems can arise when these markets allow the sale and slaughter of live animals,” the report says.
“Especially wild animals, which cannot be properly assessed for potential risks – in areas open to the public.
“When wild animals are kept in cages or pens, slaughtered, and dressed in open market areas, these areas become contaminated with body fluids, feces, and other waste.
“[This] increases the risk of transmission of pathogens to workers and customers and potentially resulting in spillover of pathogens to other animals in the market.
“Such environments provide the opportunity for animal viruses, including coronaviruses, to amplify themselves and transmit to new hosts, including humans.”
‘The next pandemic’
Vegan charity PETA welcomed the crackdown, but described it as a ‘half measure’.
Moreover, Ingrid Newkirk is the organization’s President. She said: “WHO is recommending a suspension of the trade in live mammalian wild animals… But, ignoring the plight of chickens, ducks, fish, and frogs who are caged and slaughtered in filth and leaving the door open for the next pandemic to emerge.
“Every live-animal market must close, whether it sells bats in Indonesia or birds in Brooklyn.”
You can read the full WHO report here