Senator Cynthia Villar welcomed on Wednesday, April 14, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) call to stop the sale of live wild animals in markets.
Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said the appeal is a “welcome development” that the Philippine government should heed to avert the emergence of new diseases.
“I hope all concerned government agencies will impose a ban on the catching and sale of wild animals in local markets to avert a recurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said in a statement.
She said there should be “tough measures for the strict enforcement of this prohibition” to guarantee that wild animals, which could be a source of virus, would no longer find way their way to the markets for human consumption.
“We wanted to protect our people and the world from new viruses in human like this new coronavirus, which has affected and claimed the lives of millions of people worldwide,” Villar said.
The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), previously known as 2019-nCov, was believed to have originated from a wholesale traditional market in Wuhan, China, where wild animals were sold as food or medicine.
The WHO, World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) had said that wild animals were the source of most emerging infectious diseases in humans and recommended measures to reduce the potential risk.
“COVID-19 has brought new attention to this threat, given the magnitude of its consequences,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said,
The agencies said samples from the Wuhan market suggested that it might be the source of the coronavirus outbreak or that it played a role in the initial amplification of the outbreak.
While the virus has been linked to wild animals, how it was transmitted from animals to humans is not yet known.
The virus has since spread to over 190 countries, infecting more than 137.4 million and resulting in the deaths of 2,959,675 people worldwide, according to the April 14 record of the Johns Hopkins University.
In the Philippines, a total of 884,783 individuals contracted the disease as of April 13, 15,286 of them died.
Last month, Villar filed Senate Bill No. 2078 or the proposed “Revised Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act,” to amend the 20-year-old RA No. 9147 and strengthen the wildlife conservation and protection mechanisms in the Philippines.