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Coronavirus: Should Wet Markets Be Shut Down?

A woman walks through the wet markets wearing a protective face mask in Hong Kong.
A woman walks through the wet markets wearing a protective face mask in Hong Kong.

The quest to develop treatments for COVID-19 has led researchers on a hunt to find the source of the virus. Some public health researchers believe it  originated in a wet market in Wuhan, China that sold live animals and meat, including wild butchered animals.

The Chinese government shut down the market in January as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus. However, medical experts are still trying to assess exactly how the virus got its start amongst its stalls in the first place.

Some scientists say the problem is tied to the wildlife trade. In February, China announced a permanent ban on wildlife trade and consumption. But the ban does allow for trade in wild animals for medicinal uses.

While the term wet market is not widely known, these kinds of markets are common in countries across the world, including the United States

What is a wet market exactly? Are they a public health risk? Should they be better regulated or shutdown? Or is trade in wildlife the real problem?

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