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Coronavirus: WHO backs away from ban on live animal markets, prompting warnings over emergence of new diseases

This is an excerpt from an article written by Jane Dalton and published online by Independent on 12 May, 2020.

The organisation ‘has an obligation to advise countries to lower the risk of another pandemic’ by outlawing such places.

The World Health Organisation has backed away from supporting a global ban on open-air slaughter markets despite the coronavirus pandemic, prompting objections that such places are breeding grounds for diseases.

Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO food safety and animal diseases scientist, said live animal markets were critical to providing food and livelihoods for millions of people and that authorities should focus on improving them rather than outlawing them ⁠– even though they can spark epidemics in humans.

Many scientists have said an animal market in Wuhan, China, was likely to have played a significant role in the emergence of the new coronavirus, possibly spreading it from bats via pangolins, but the WHO is not recommending that such markets be shut down globally.

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