WHO advisory to suspend sale of live animals in food markets raises eyebrows

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi Published: Apr 13, 2021, 11:45 PM(IST)

A file photo of WHO officials attending a press conference to wrap up a visit by the international team of experts in the city of Wuhan. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

One year on, the Wuhan wet market remains barricaded and empty. The WHO team paid a visit to this market while hunting for clues but came up with nothing conclusive

With the right planning, we can contain the coronavirus surge.

But what about the origins of the virus?

That's a question, we still haven't settled and it's important to revisit the question.

Because, history notoriously repeats itself. If we don't fix it now, it will happen again and that's something the world cannot afford.

So, here's the question I've been asking for more than a year.

Did the coronavirus come from a lab in China? Or a wet market in China?  

The World Health Organization (WHO), which launched a probe, doesn't have the answer.

Instead, it has an appeal. It is now urging countries to suspend the sale of live animals in food markets.  

Why now? And what does it mean?  

Wet markets could have launched this pandemic from China to the rest of the world.

One year on, the Wuhan wet market remains barricaded and empty. The WHO team paid a visit to this market while hunting for clues but came up with nothing conclusive.

Why is this place central to the pandemic story? Because the allegations of cover-up began here, the initial cluster of the virus was noticed here.

There are clues staring the world in the face but the WHO doesn't acknowledge them. Instead, it issues an advisory to shut down all markets, which sell live animals.

The statement came on Tuesday. The world health body urging countries to suspend the sale of live animals in food markets. Why? Because the WHO believes they could be the source of emerging infectious diseases. It says everything but stops short of linking this Chinese market with the coronavirus.  

The new WHO guidance says animals, particularly wild animals, are the source of more than 70 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases.

Its investigators said the coronavirus probably emerged in bats first and it spread to humans through an intermediary.  

About 28 per cent of the initial cases were linked to the Wuhan wet market. This market sold sika deer, badgers, bamboo rats, live crocodiles and other animals. Some 23 per cent of the cases were tied to other markets in Wuhan but with China withholding data, it's hard to prove they were the source of the pandemic.  

The WHO believes that banning the sale of animals in such markets could protect the health of people.

It can only appeal. There's no guarantee that member countries, like China will comply.

Remember, these wet markets were back in business last year in China.

A Reuters correspondent paid a visit to one in Wuhan in December. Shoppers were lining up to buy live fish, frogs and turtles. There is enough medical research to prove these are breeding grounds for deadly viruses, keeping them open is inviting another pandemic. 

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