The statement comes after a WHO team visited Wuhan in China to investigate the origins of COVID-19
The sale of live wild mammals at food markets should be suspended as an emergency measure, the World Health Organisation has now said.
The statement comes following a WHO team having visited Wuhan in China in order to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most likely origin scenario is that the coronavirus originated in bats, was then spread to another unidentified animal, before then passed on to humans, a WHO report said back in March.
The organisation has said in a separate report on Tuesday that the animals, “particularly wild animals”, are the cause of more than 70% of all the emerging infectious diseases that can infect humans.
They added that many of these are caused by novel coronaviruses, which are viruses that have not been previously recorded.
This comes after 1.1 million people in private households in the UK have reported having long COVID, latest estimates show. The data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) defined the condition as symptoms that lasted more than four weeks and are self-reported, rather than clinically diagnosed.
The report states: “Wild mammals, in particular, pose a risk for the emergence of new diseases. They come into markets without any way to check if they carry dangerous viruses.
“There is a risk of direct transmission to humans from coming into contact with the saliva, blood, urine, mucus, faeces, or other body fluids of an infected animal, and an additional risk of picking up the infection from contact with areas where animals are housed in markets or objects or surfaces that could have been contaminated with such viruses.”
The WHO have said that “traditional markets play a central role in providing food and livelihoods ” across the globe.
It added that the banning of selling live wild animals for food would help to protect the health and wellbeing of both food market shoppers and workers.
The viruses that are most closely related to COVID-19 have been found in bats within southwest China.
The intermediate host is more elusive: pangolins, rabbits, mink, raccoon and dogs, as well as domesticated cats have all been said to be a possibility.
The team from the WHO have said that a theory the virus was leaked from a lab was “extremely unlikely” but that it has not yet been ruled out.
This call for a ban on the sale of wild animals comes following the WHO saying that the global coronavirus pandemic is at a “critical point”.
It added that people need a “reality check” as restrictions are eased.
This comes after Britons aged between 18 and 29 will be offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine where available, government advisors have decided. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said that the new advice is a “course correction” for the “very successful” vaccine rollout for the UK.
Dr Maria van Kerkhove, who is the head of the WHO’s technical response, said at a press conference that vaccinations alone are not enough to combat COVID-19.
Coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased within some parts of the UK on Monday, with those in England returning to the high streets and drinkers being permitted to visit pub gardens in England, and non-essential retailers beginning to reopen in Wales.
Speaking on Monday afternoon, Dr van Kerkhove urged caution, saying: “We need headlines around these public health and social measures, we need headlines around the tools that we have right now that can prevent infections and save lives.
“We are in a critical point of the pandemic right now, the trajectory of this pandemic is growing.”