In light of the coronavirus disease pandemic, majority or over 90 percent of respondents surveyed in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong support a government-led closure of illegal and unregulated wildlife markets, according to a research for the World Wide Fund for Nature.
COVID-19 has brought the link between zoonotic diseases—those transmitted from animals to humans—and wildlife markets into sharp focus, as previous studies revealed that coronavirus originated in a wet market selling wildlife in Wuhan, China.
The survey conducted by Globescan in March among 5,000 participants from Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam found that 82 percent of respondents are extremely or very worried about the outbreak, with 93 percent of respondents in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong supporting action by their governments to eliminate illegal and unregulated markets.
On Feb. 24, the Chinese government announced a comprehensive ban on the consumption of wild animals. WWF’s research shows that citizens support similar action from other governments across the region.
“China has taken great steps prohibiting the hunting, trade, transport, and eating of wild animals, and Vietnam is working on similar directives,” said Christy Williams, regional director of WWF’s Asia Pacific program.
Williams added, “Other Asian governments must follow by closing their high-risk wildlife markets and ending this trade once and for all to save lives and help prevent a repeat of the social and economic disruption we are experiencing around the globe today.”
The World Health Organization has reported that the current COVID-19 pandemic, along with at least 61 percent of all human pathogens, are zoonotic in origin—wildlife trade is an aggravating risk in the spread of zoonoses. Other recent epidemics, including SARS, MERS, and Ebola, have also all been traced back to viruses that spread from animals to people.
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