THE World Health Organization today called for a halt to the sale of live wild mammals in food markets to prevent the spread of disease and any future pandemics.
They have called on countries to abandon the traditional trade of "live caught wild animals of mammalian species" in a bid to curb public health risks.
It is a dramatic U-turn from the WHO's original decision to back the re-opening of the controversial wet markets last May.
Health experts around the world condemned the decision to support the trade, which restarted at the original virus epicentre in China.
A dual WHO-Chinese study published last month that investigated the origins of coronavirus suggested the markets selling both live and dead animals were a likely source.
"Animals, particularly wild animals, are the source of more than 70% of all emerging infectious diseases in humans, many of which are caused by novel viruses," the WHO explained in a statement.
"Wild mammals, in particular, pose a risk for the emergence of new diseases."
Wet markets traditionally sell fresh produce and live animals, such as fish and exotic animals, which are butchered in the open air.
They tend to be popular with shoppers who believe the items on sale are cheaper and fresher than in supermarkets.
But they are poorly regulated.
The health organisation's response to the virus has been contentious, to say the least, and even saw former President Donald Trump halt their funding in protest of its handling of the pandemic last year.
The hunt for the answers to the origin of coronavirus has become a political play for global superpowers, while China desperately continues to try and distance itself from the outbreak.
The recently published WHO-Chinese report has pretty much eliminated the idea that the virus escaped from a lab – based on data provided by China.
It instead determined that an animal with coronavirus, likely a bat, transmitted the disease to an intermediary species, which then spread to humans.
The study also did not dismiss the possibility that the infection came from overseas via an animal that was imported into the country.
The questionable probe has received an unwelcoming international reception, facing accusations of failing to investigate properly and it being "China-centric".
"Lacking crucial information, access, and transparency", the report needs to be"free of surveillance", 14 countries – including the UK, US, Australia, Israel, and Canada – said when voicing their "shared concerns" in a joint statement.
The findings were commended by China, who instead plan to expand the search outside of its borders.
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