Wet markets are recognized as the place to go if people want fresh and affordable food. Right now, most are also unable to operate due to the COVID-19 pandemic but could reopen if plans to do so prosper. But this early, the World Health Organization (WHO) is mapping out guidelines for everyone’s safety, one that includes stricter measures on the sale of certain items.
The WHO is collaborating with the United Nations (UN) bodies to come out with guidelines on the safe operation of wet markets. Some markets are poorly regulated and maintained and setting a set of guidelines and standards hopes to resolve all that.
Wet markets offer fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, live animals that are sometimes categorized under wildlife. There are plans to ban the sale and trade of wildlife for food, calling to mind how the whole COVID-19 started. BBC pointed out how a market in Wuhan was singled out as a point of origin where wildlife was on sale.
“WHO’s position is that when these markets are allowed to reopen it should only be on the condition that they conform to stringent food safety and hygiene standards,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said. “Governments must rigorously enforce bans on the sale and trade of wildlife for food.”
Banning wildlife items may help in curbing down the possibility of the COVID-19 virus from spreading and also appease the wildlife conservation organizations. However, some feel that an outright ban on markets could become counterproductive. Some feel that it would still be best to regulate wildlife markets, especially if it involves live animals.
“A more appropriate response would be improving the regulation of wildlife markets, especially those involving live animals. This should include full consideration of public health and animal welfare concerns to ensure there is a low risk of future animal-to-human disease outbreaks,” Dr. Mark Jones, head of policy at Born Free, said.
Wet markets have had their share of criticism the past weeks with some calling for them to be banned. That includes Sir Paul McCartney, a vegetarian campaigner, The Guardian reported. Aside from questions regarding its sanitation, he believes that it is a bomb waiting to go off.
“When you’ve got the obscenity of some of the stuff that’s going on there and what comes out of it, they might as well be letting off atomic bombs. It’s affecting the whole world,” McCartney said.