The coronavirus. Where to start? Well, the coronavirus started in the city of Wuhan, China and has spread to several countries across the world within a matter of weeks. To date, 43,104 cases have been reported, of which 38,043 people are currently infected, 7,345 are in a serious or critical condition and 1,018 have died. The total number of people who have recovered from the virus currently stands at 4,043 people.
The name ‘corona’ refers to the virus’s distinct wreath-like shape. It is common in mammals and birds and in rare cases can spread to humans like it has done. Researchers believe that SARS-CoV-2, newly named Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), originated from an animal in a seafood and animal market in Wuhan. Identification of this animal is key to controlling the current outbreak and gauging its threat going forward.
It is estimated that 70% of emerging infections have come from wild animals and strong evidence now indicates that Covid-19 originated from bats. However, its transmission to humans is not yet fully understood though scientists are led to believe that there is another animal that’s an intermediary. New research now suggests that pangolins may be the missing link, as the genome sequences of viruses in pangolins where found to be 99% identical to coronavirus patients.
Covid-19 affects the respiratory system and patients have been presented with fevers, coughs and breathing difficulties. In fewer and more severe cases, human coronavirus can cause pneumonia, kidney failure and even death.
Covid-19 can live outside the human body for 24 hours but can be destroyed by household cleaning products. It can be spread by physical contact with an infected patient and by simply being within a 5-meter radius of an infected patient for more than 15 minutes.
In an attempt to curb the spread of the disease, China has placed a temporary ban on the trade of wildlife. This is because their seafood and live animal markets are now considered a potential source of diseases that are new and unknown to humans. Campaigners have now urged China to apply the permanent ban on the wildlife trade following the coronavirus outbreak. They also argue that a permanent ban would be a vital step in the effort to reduce and hopefully end the trade of wildlife and wildlife products. China’s demand for wildlife products for traditional medicines or exotic foods is the driving force of the global trade in endangered species. A study by the WWF shows that the illegal wildlife trade is worth around £20 billion per year which makes it the fourth largest illegal trade after drugs, smuggling and counterfeiting. Many people blame China for driving several species to the brink of extinction.
After years of pressure from other countries, China placed a ban (with great success) on the trade of ivory – a game changer for elephant conservation. In September 2020, Beijing will be hosting a global meeting with the main goal of protecting the ~1 million animals that are listed as endangered. Now that sustainability and saving the planet is a top agenda on many people’s lists – China is under scrutiny.
We believe that China should make the ban on the wildlife trade permanent, we hope you agree.
Daisy Sullivan, Year 10