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Markets: Disease Control

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 22nd May 2020.

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Photo of Ian Lavery Ian Lavery Labour, Wansbeck

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking as part of the international response to the continued existence of wet markets in (a) China and (b) other countries throughout the world.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Whilst the sale of wildlife in “wet markets” has been suspected as the source of the current COVID-19 pandemic, conclusive evidence is not yet available. Research into the origin of the virus causing COVID-19 is ongoing, and the UK is working with the international scientific community to determine the source of the outbreak. When we have sound evidence, we will support the delivery of swift and effective policy interventions where needed.

We recognise however that ‘wet markets’ selling live animals and meat are a high risk environment for the transmission of disease from animals to other animals, and from animals to humans, if they are not subject to high standards of biosecurity and hygiene. It is essential that strict food hygiene and health standards are met, and we agree with the WHO that markets should close if these standards are not met.

In the meantime, the UK continues to provide leadership in the efforts to combat and end the illegal wildlife trade, which not only increases the risk of zoonosis, but contributes to loss of biodiversity and increased corruption.

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