A city in China has drafted legislation on Tuesday to ban citizens from eating dogs, among other animals, over fears of spreading the coronavirus.
The law would also ban eating snake, frog and turtle meat, The Daily Mail reported. Lawmakers in Shenzhen, which as a population of 13 million people, are waiting for feedback from the before signing the legislation into law, as it would be the first of its kind in the country. Critics have been advocating for a ban on eating dogs in China for years.
Thousands of dogs in China are killed, skinned and cooked during the Yulin Dog Meat Festival each year on the summer solstice.
This latest development comes after China banned all trade and consumption of wild animals, which some officials believe has helped spread the deadly virus.
A Shenzhen official described the law as the “universal civilization requirement of a modern society.”
“There are so many animal species in nature. In our country alone, there are more than 2,000 kinds of protected wild animal species,” the official said. “If the local authority is to produce a list of the wild animals that cannot be eaten, it will be too lengthy and cannot answer the question exactly what animals can be eaten.”
The coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has killed 2.715 people in China, and at least 2,771 worldwide. More than 78,000 people in China and 81,250 globally have been infected by the disease.
After the first case was found in Wuhan, China, the coronavirus has been detected in 37 other places across the globe, including the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On Jan. 30, the situation became so bad the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee declared the outbreak “a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).”
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex M. Azar declared a public health emergency in the United States on Jan. 31, but downplayed the situation saying, “While this virus poses a serious public health threat, the risk to the American public remains low at this time, and we are working to keep this risk low.”
“We are committed to protecting the health and safety of all Americans, and this public health emergency declaration is the latest in the series of steps the Trump Administration has taken to protect our country,” Azar added.
By declaring the entire country a public health emergency, state, tribal and local health departments receive more flexibility to request that HHS authorize them to temporarily reassign state, local, and tribal personnel to respond to the coronavirus if their salaries normally are funded in whole or in part by Public Health Service Act programs.
President Donald Trump is holding a press conference Wednesday to address the outbreak.