Poultry vendor selling live chicken at wet market in Kowloon City.
  • China said it will ban illegal wildlife markets and trade in light of the Wuhan coronavirus, which has killed at least 426 people and infected more than 20,000.
  • Experts believe the Wuhan coronavirus likely started in a wet market, where live and dead animals are often sold in poorly regulated conditions.
  • The ban on wildlife markets is just one of a number of initiatives China is taking in response to the novel coronavirus.
  • China also swiftly built two hospitals to accommodate the growing number of patients, and put entire cities under quarantine.
  • Go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage for more stories.

China is looking to ban illegal wildlife trade and escalate supervision on "wet markets" in light of the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus.

The Wuhan coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is likely to have started in a wet market in Wuhan in the Chinese province of Hubei. The markets are known for selling both live and dead animals, often in poorly regulated conditions.

The outbreak has killed 425 people in China and one in the Philippines and infected more than 20,000 people worldwide.

The Politburo Standing Committee, the most powerful body of the Chinese Communist Party issued a statement Monday recognising its "shortcomings" in its response to the outbreak, adding that it will "severely crack down" on illegal wildlife markets and trade in light of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

"It is necessary to strengthen market supervision, resolutely ban and severely crack down on illegal wildlife markets and trade, and control major public health risks from the source," the committee said in the statement.

The Wuhan coronavirus is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it originated in animals. Experts believe the novel coronavirus spread from bats, to snakes, to people. China initially imposed a ban on live animal sales in the city of Wuhan in light of the outbreak.

The ban is just one of a number of initiatives China is imposing to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, including panic-building two hospitals and introducing unprecedented quarantines throughout the country.

China's crackdown on the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus comes after the country was criticised for its response to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in the early 2000s. China kept quiet on the spread of the disease, later issuing an apology for its response to the outbreak as the number of infected people and the death toll grew.

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