China has on Monday banned the consumption and trade of wild animals, a practice believed responsible for the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
The country’s top legislative committee approved a proposal “prohibiting the illegal wildlife trade, abolishing the bad habit of over-consumption of wildlife, and effectively protecting the lives and health of the people,” state television reported.
Previous temporary bans have been put in place, including after the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in 2002-03 and was also traced to wild animal consumption.
The coronavirus is proliferating globally, roiling markets and business, after originating in China where more than 77,000 people have been infected and over 2,500 have died.
The virus emerged in early December in Wuhan, an industrial city of 11 million in Hubei province, and early attention focused on a seafood market where live animals were sold, even though a third of the first 40 cases or so were found to have no link to it.
It has also infected people in at least two dozen other countries, killing nearly 30, and its rapid global spread has raised fears of a full-blown pandemic.