A recent coronavirus outbreak in Asia has been linked to illegal wildlife trade in a seafood market in Wuhan, China, according to Chinese government officials (The Guardian). The virus has killed at least 25 people and sickened over 800 in Asia, as well as one person in the United States who had recently traveled to Wuhan. On January 24, authorities expanded a travel lockdown in central China to include 12 cities near Wuhan, quarantining over 35 million residents (New York Times). 


Conservationists and public health experts have called for a global ban on wild animal markets in the wake of the outbreak, citing threats to biodiversity and public health (The Guardian). Wild animal markets have been identified as the source of other infectious disease outbreaks, including the SARS epidemic in 2003, which killed nearly 800 people worldwide (Reuters). After the SARS outbreak, the Chinese government temporarily banned wild animal markets. Now, however, the markets are widespread across China and parts of Southeast Asia due to a high demand for exotic delicacies and ingredients for traditional medicine (The Guardian).


Under China’s wildlife protection law, captive breeding of wildlife for commercial purposes is allowed if companies obtain a license from provincial authorities. On January 19, authorities in Wuhan announced they would ban the sale of live poultry and wildlife, and increase control on agriculture and seafood markets (South China Morning Post).