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Eating wild animals banned in Wuhan as China goes on defensive

Wuhan wet market (Simon Law/Wikipedia)

Eating wild animals has been banned in Wuhan — the epicenter of the coronavirus — while the Chinese government also Wednesday slammed the U.S. over criticism of lax reporting in the early stages of the pandemic.

It’s the latest flareup between the communist country and the Trump administration over COVID-19 and the World Health Organization’s handling of the virus.

“The U.S. is saying it’s your fault for covering things up when it all first started,” said Tufts University Associate Professor Elizabeth Remick, an expert in Chinese politics.

“This looks to me as part of the back and forth between the U.S. and China,” she added, “with China saying ‘Don’t point fingers’ and the U.S. trying to score points.”

As for shutting down the consumption of wild animal products, Remick said that will be difficult because a black market will replace any legitimate so-called wet markets that are shut down.

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The City of Wuhan announced Wednesday a ban on eating wild animals and Chinese farmers are being offered cash to quit breeding exotic animals, CBS reported.

The top theory on how COVID-19 started was at the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan when a human or humans were infected with a virus from an animal at the wet market where animals are stacked up in cages.

Stock footage of pangolins — a scaly mammal that looks like an anteater — have made it on to news bulletins, suggesting this animal was the staging post for the virus before it spread to humans, the Guardian reported. Others have speculated the virus may have come from a bat.

Wild animals, including bats, are considered delicacies in China.

China.org, a state-run website, posted comments Wednesday by a Foreign Ministry spokesperson who slammed President Trump’s criticism of the WHO.

“It is clear to see that the international community generally disagrees with the U.S. actions of distorting the facts, contradicting itself, blaming others and undermining international cooperation in fighting the pandemic,” the spokesperson said.

Trump has threatened to permanently halt funding to the WHO due to the global health agency’s slow response to the virus and for going too easy on China.

“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump wrote, according to a letter he tweeted out.

The U.S. is the primary source of funding for the WHO.

The controversy, the Chinese website stated, is an “attempt to shift blame” that “will not work.”

The coronavirus has killed nearly 326,000 people worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, with 92,700 of those deaths in the U.S.

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© 2020 the Boston Herald