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Bryan Adams was wrong to target China, but wet markets do pose virus risk: expert

FILE - In this Saturday, March 14, 2020 file photo, health officials inspect bats to be confiscated and culled in the wake of coronavirus outbreak at a live animal market in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia. The World Health Organization said Friday May 8, 2020, that although a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan selling live animals likely played a significant role in the emergence of the new coronavirus, it does not recommend that such live markets be shut down globally. (AP Photo, File)
Summary

Wildlife markets pose a legitimate risk for new viruses to jump from animals into the human population: expert

Similar markets exist in many other parts of the world, says UoT's Kerry Bowman

Bryan Adams was wrong to target China on wildlife markets, global health expert says

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) Bryan Adams is apologizing for a social media rant some have described as racist, and in which he criticized wildlife markets as being the cause of COVID-19.

But an expert says, despite the controversy, so-called “wet markets” do pose a legitimate risk as a place ideal for new viruses to jump from animals and into the human population.

When University of Toronto global health expert Kerry Bowman read Bryan Adams comments targeting China, he said it made his skin crawl.

But, he says, wildlife markets are considered a possible cause of COVID-19.

Bowman has actually visited the wet markets in Wuhan in the past.

“When I was there, it was summer, it was very hot — high-powered hoses spraying blood, urine, feces, from one cage to another,” he says. “So you can see the kind of viral risk of recombining that emerges.”

Bowman says similar markets exist in many other parts of the world, and they all need to go.

“My most important point is that this is a global issue,” Bowman adds, suggesting Adams’ focus on China was unfair.

However, Bowman says, it’s not an easy thing to shut down these markets as they’ve been operating, in China’s case, for generations and are ingrained in the culture.

“If we don’t change things, this is not the last pandemic,” he says. “We could have another one at any time, of a new coronavirus. People keep calling this one ‘the coronavirus.’ It’s actually quite inaccurate. There’s many coronaviruses. But we haven’t changed anything. We could be hit by another pandemic at any time.”

Australia’s prime minister has described as “unfathomable” the World Health Organization’s support for the reopening of markets where live animals are butchered in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the novel coronavirus first emerged.

“We need to protect the world against potential sources of outbreaks of these types of viruses. It’s happened too many times. I’m totally puzzled by this decision,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Nine Network television on Tuesday. “I think that’s unfathomable, frankly.”

The World Health Or says in a statement that wet markets should not be allowed to sell illegal wildlife for food and authorities should enforce food safety and hygiene regulations.

But, it says, “wet markets and other food markets do not need to be closed down.”

China temporarily shut wet markets after the outbreak and suspended the sale of some kinds of wildlife. Local media say the markets are being reopened to alleviate the economic difficulties of shopkeepers.