Wuhan market had a role to play in coronavirus outbreak, more research required: WHO

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on May 09, 2020 Published on May 09, 2020

The World Health Organization on Friday said that a wholesale market in Wuhan, China had played a role in the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in 2019, calling for more research, Reuters reported.

Dr Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO expert on food safety and zoonotic viruses that cross the species barrier from animals to humans said that the market had a role to play in the coronavirus outbreak.

However, whether it was a source or a possibly “amplifying setting” for the outbreak is yet to be determined. Embarek called for more research as it was not clear whether it was just a coincidence that more cases were detected around the market or if animals or infected vendors or shoppers had brought the virus into the market, the report said.

Recently, the United States President Donald Trump and US Secretary Mike Pompeo have voiced their criticism of China alleging that the virus had originated in a lab in Wuhan.

The claims of the virus being man-made have been refuted by the WHO as well as the US intelligence community who believe that according to the evidence so far, the virus seems to have originated in nature rather than being genetically modified or manmade.

Embarek further said that the most important aspect of understanding how the virus evolved and how it adapted to humans was to ‘get hold of the virus before it adapted to humans.’

China probably had the expertise needed to conduct the investigations, he further said.

China had shut its Wuhan wet market in January owing to the surging number of Covid-19 cases putting a temporary ban on the trade of wildlife meat.

Embarek said that markets across the globe selling such meat should be regulated. Last month, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity had called for a global ban on wildlife markets, The Guardian reported.

The UN biodiversity chief urged countries to ban such markets in a bid to curb future pandemics.

Published on May 09, 2020

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