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Africa Wildlife and Conservation News, Elephants, fighting wildlife crime, Pangolins, Rhinos

Is there a link between Chinese virus and illegal wildlife trade?

Sustainability Times

Traditional Chinese medicine is a scourge on exotic wildlife

Traditional Chinese medicine is a scourge on exotic wildlife




China coronavirus: Your questions answered

  • 23 January 2020People wear masks in Beijing, ChinaImage copyrightEPA/WU HONG
Image captionPeople wear masks near the Tiananmen Gate Tower in Beijing, China

The coronavirus in China has killed more than 20 people and spread to several provinces, as well as the US, Thailand and South Korea.

Wuhan, the city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, was locked down on Thursday.

The origin is suspected to be a food market that “conducted illegal transactions of wild animals”.

Officials in the UK are monitoring flights from China.

BBC health and science correspondents Michelle Roberts and James Gallagher answer your questions about the new virus.

Can the coronavirus be transferred through items bought from Wuhan and posted to UK? – Stefan

There is no evidence this is a risk. Some diseases – including the coronavirus that causes Sars – can spread through surfaces contaminated by people coughing or sneezing on them.

It has not been shown this new coronavirus can do that. Even if it could, there would still be questions about whether international shipping would be a major problem.

Cold viruses tend to survive less than 24 hours outside the human body although norovirus (a severe stomach bug) can last months outside the body.

The most reassuring fact so far is that cases seem to require close contact with another person – say, a family member or healthcare worker – in order to spread.

Is there any reason such viruses are emerging more from China? – Gautam

Yes – large populations of people living in close proximity to animals.

This coronavirus almost certainly came from an animal source, with one suggestion being snakes. Sars, another coronavirus that originated in China, came from bats and the civet cat.

The early cases of this new infection were traced to the South China Seafood Wholesale Market. Live wild animals were also sold including chickens, bats and snakes.

It is a far cry from the usual shopping experience if you are used to your meat nicely cut up and in clear plastic packaging in your typical Western-supermarket.

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