China bans wildlife trade nationwide in a bid to contain Wuhan virus

Unlike SARS, the Wuhan virus is infectious during incubation.

Jason Fan | January 26, 2020, 08:50 PM

Wildlife trade in China is now banned nationwide in markets, supermarkets, restaurants and e-commerce platforms, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The ban kicked in from Sunday, Jan. 26.

According to Reuters, the virus is believed to have originated in a seafood market in late December 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which has since spread worldwide, including Singapore.

New ban serves to limit the spread of the virus

According to the joint statement made by China's market watchdog, agricultural ministry and forestry bureau, any places that breed wildlife should be isolated, and the transportation of wildlife should be banned.

Markets such as those in Wuhan, which sells a variety of wildlife, are largely seen as breeding grounds for viruses.

Authorities have since banned all trading of wildlife in Wuhan, but the new nationwide ban serves as a way to further limit the spread of the virus, which has since killed at least 56 people worldwide, with most of the deaths occurring in China.

Reuters reported that health authorities in Beijing have urged people not to shake hands, but to salute using a traditional cupped hand gesture instead.

This advice was sent via a text message, which went out to mobile phone users in the city on Sunday morning, Jan. 26.

New Wuhan virus is infectious during incubation

According to Reuters, China's National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei spoke at a press briefing, and said that knowledge of the virus was limited.

Unlike Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a similar coronavirus that originated in China and killed nearly 800 people between 2002 and 2003, the virus is infectious during incubation.

The incubation for the new coronavirus has been reported to range from one to 14 days.

This meant that it could be more difficult to prevent the ability of the virus to spread, especially as containment efforts are hindered by the ongoing Lunar New Year holidays.

Although transportation and travel curbs have been implemented, millions of Chinese nationals are likely to still be travelling during the nation's biggest holiday.

According to Ma, containment efforts will be intensified to deal with the virus.

On Sunday morning, the virus was reported to have infected close to 2,000 people, and killed 56 people.

However, there are rumours stating that the number of Wuhan virus cases have been under-reported in China, as well as the number of deaths that have occurred due to the virus.

In 2003, during the initial stages of SARS, China had also under-reported cases of the virus, in a highly publicised cover-up.

Top image from CGTN's YouTube.