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"Wet markets are found the world over, typically open-air sites selling fresh meat, seafood, and produce. The meats often are butchered and trimmed on-site. Markets in China have come in for justifiable condemnation because of the way they’ve evolved, commingling traditional livestock with a wide variety of wild animals, including exotic and endangered species. Many are quite unsanitary, with blood, entrails, excrement, and other waste creating the conditions for disease that migrates from animals to people through virus, bacteria, and other forms of transmission. Such “zoonotic diseases” that have emerged from China and other regions of the world include Ebola, HIV, bird flu, swine flu, and SARS.

Wet markets and commingling with wild animals have created much misery for the Chinese and for the world. Sixty million Americans caught the H1N1 “swine flu” virus in 2009, while the SARS outbreak killed nearly 800 people worldwide. The COVID-19 death toll is already multiples of that.

There should be permanent closure of the wet markets, given the government’s obvious inability or unwillingness to regulate them. Such a comprehensive approach would be a reversal of decades of government policy and market practice, but when we get through this crisis and the toll it will take on the world, we will owe it to the memory of those we lose that there be a global, sustained push to see these practices ended, everywhere." - THERESE SHAHEEN