Mitt Romney (R-UT) has joined a bipartisan group of senators calling on Chinese officials to close all wet markets in the country over their suspected links to the coronavirus outbreak.
The group, led by Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) made its plea on Thursday in a letter to Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai.
Wet markets are known for selling live animals such as cats, dogs, fish, rabbits and bats. Wet markets are named to distinguish them from dry markets selling packages and non-perishable goods, such as textiles.
Chinese scientists believe the new form of coronavirus originated at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. The virus is understood to have emerged through a zoonotic spillover, in which the virus jumped from an animal to a human.
“We write to urgently request that China immediately close all operating wet markets that have a potential to expose humans to health risks through the introduction of zoonotic disease into the human population,” the senators wrote.
“Gao Fu, the director of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has acknowledged that “the origin of the new coronavirus is the wildlife sold illegally in a Wuhan (China) seafood market.
“It is well documented that wet markets in China have been the source of a number of worldwide health problems, and their operation should cease immediately so as to protect the Chinese people and the international community from additional health risks.
“Therefore we are urging China to shut down all wet markets that allow for interactions between humans and wild animals that pose public health risks,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
“We understand and respect that wet markets are an important component to Chinese society and way of life, but we believe the current moment, which has disrupted everyday life around the world, calls for extreme precautions.”
The other signatories of the letter were: Kevin Cramer (R-ND); Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Thom Tillis (R-NC); Martha McSally (R-AZ); Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS); Marsha Blackburn (R-TN); John Hoeven (R-ND); and Rick Scott (R-FL).
Wet markets, where animals are sold in the open, are common in China. The 2003 SARS outbreak is also believed to be linked to a wet market.
The United Nations’ acting head of biodiversity and the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert are among numerous officials who have since called for wet markets and the wild animal trade to cease.
Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, told Fox & Friends that the COVID-19 crisis was a “direct result” of unsanitary marketplaces.
“It boggles my mind how, when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface, that we don’t just shut it down. I don’t know what else has to happen to get us to appreciate that,” he said.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the acting executive secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, told The Guardian in a recent interview that “the message we are getting is if we don’t take care of nature, it will take care of us.”
Mrema added that a ban on wet markets would not fully resolve the issue because many communities rely on wild animals.
“It would be good to ban the live animal markets as China has done and some countries,” she said. “But we should also remember you have communities, particularly from low-income rural areas, particularly in Africa, which are dependent on wild animals to sustain the livelihoods of millions of people.”
In February, China placed a temporary ban on all farming and consumption of “terrestrial wildlife of important ecological, scientific and social value.” This is expected to be signed into law later this year.
The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of COVID-19 around the world as of April 9.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19
- CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
- Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
- Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
- Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.
World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
- Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.
- Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
- Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
- If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
- Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
- Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.
Mask and glove usage
- Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
- Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
- Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
- Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
- Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
- Do not reuse single-use masks.
- Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
- The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.