FILTHY wet markets selling animals butchered in front of shoppers are still open across Asia despite being blamed for starting the coronavirus outbreak.
Experts warn these horrific sites are a “ticking time bomb” and could lead to a new disease much like COVID-19 which has swept the world killing more than 25,000.
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It is believed that coronavirus jumped from animals to humans at a so-called wet market in Wuhan, China, which sold bats and reptiles.
Another coronavirus named SARS was also linked to a similar market in southern China and led to the deaths of hundreds in 2002 and 2003.
Yet despite the Chinese government closing these grisly shops following the outbreak, countless others are still operating across Asia, reports The Mirror.
'BUSINESS AS USUAL'
Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Indonesia and Laos all have a culture of selling exotic animals, dead and alive, for meat at wet markets.
Many of the sellers use a single blade to butcher a whole host of of creatures – from dogs, bats, snakes and turtles.
According to the report, Indonesia’s Tomohon market is “business as usual” local source say, despite the local mayor banning wild meat.
Barbecued bats are sold alongside monkeys, dogs and cats which are slaughtered in front of customers at the so-called “Extreme Market” – a moniker given because of its cruelty.
And in Chatuchak, central Bangkok, Thailand, the live animals including African wild cats, snakes and tortoises are sold despite the global outbreak of COVID-19.
Professor Andrew Cunningham, of the Zoological Society of London, has called for a worldwide ban on wet markets insisting species which don't mix in the wild are vulnerable to catches viruses from each other.
Both COVID-19 AND SARS are believed to have originated from a bat host.
Prof Cunningham said that the extreme stress experienced by animals being held in cages at the bloodthirsty butchers shops also increases the scale of “virus shedding.”
He told the Mirror: “Where live animals of different species are brought together and held in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions, the likelihood of an animal being present that carries a potentially zoonotic virus (which are passed from animal to humans) is increased.
“The highest priority for the protection of human health is to ban wet markets.”
However, the trade globally is estimated to be worth £58bn a year and there are fears that powerful industry players may lobby Asian governments to keep the markets open.
For now, China has closed around 20,000 of these disgusting sites – much like they did following the SARS crisis, only to open them again months later.
Steve Galster, of Freeland, a Bangkok-based anti-trafficking group, said the coronavirus is “a major wake-up call – mother nature’s revenge.”
He added: “HIV, SARS and bird flu all came from animals and now this one too. These markets are ticking time bombs”.
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