The Chinese government is set to ban all trade and consumption of wild animals.
According to the country’s top legislative committee, which passed a proposal for the ban on Monday morning, the practice is believed to be responsible for the country’s deadly coronavirus outbreak.
Xinhua news agency reports that the proposal was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), with the aim of completely banning the eating of wild animals and crackdown on illegal wildlife trade.
According to the report, the measure was aimed at ‘safeguarding public health and ecological security’.
The Standing Committee is responsible for convening the 3,000-member NPC, but it has decided to postpone the annual session due to the health crisis.
With the wild animal protection law of the country yet to be reviewed, the passage of the proposal was ‘essential’ and ‘urgent’ in helping the country win the war against the epidemic, wrote state newspaper People’s Daily.
Chinese health officials have said the virus likely emerged from a market in the central city of Wuhan that sold wild animals as food.
The epidemic began exploding across the country in late January, forcing China to order a temporary ban ‘until the national epidemic situation is over’.
The deadly virus has killed 2,592 people in China, infected some 77,000 so far and paralyzed its economy. It has spread to at least two dozen countries, infecting 1,500 people and killing nearly 30.