Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham is urging China to shut down its wet markets where exotic animals are sold for human consumption because of the markets’ role in the transmission of devastating outbreaks like the coronavirus.
“These wet markets in China, people eat bats and they eat monkeys, and bats and monkeys — at least bats for sure — carry this kind of virus,” the South Carolina Republican told “The Story” host Martha MacCallum on Friday.
“This is where ebola came from, this is where the SARS came from, and this lab may be 300 yards away from the wet market in China where they test bats for coronavirus infection, but people literally eating bats 300 yards down the road.”
The senator pointed to comments made by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who said that the global community should help force a closure of the wet markets in China.
“It boggles my mind how when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface, that we don’t just shut it down,” Fauci told “Fox & Friends.”
“I would like to see the rest of the world really lean with a lot of pressure on those countries that have that, because what we’re going through right now is a direct result of that.”
Graham said he is sending a letter with Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Chris Coons to the World Health Organization and the Chinese government demanding they permanently close the wet markets.
“Sixteen percent of all deaths in the world are infectious diseases and about 60 percent of them come from animal to human transmission,” Graham told MacCallum.
The senator added that there were wet markets in Southeast Asia and Africa, not just in China.
“We need to stop that. It’s the 21st century,” he said.
Medical experts on the ground indicated at the time that Huanan Seafood Market had been the only major common denominator between those individuals admitted to Wuhan hospitals with the first known cases of the virus.
Virologists and medical researchers suggest that the novel coronavirus is more than likely a zoonotic virus, having originated in bats and spread to other animals within the market before making the jump to humans.
Graham called on President Donald Trump to demand that Chinese President Xi Jinping “crack down” on the wet markets.
“What I would tell President Trump is call up President Xi and say, ‘Listen, you just reopened the wet market in Wuhan where we believe all of this came from. Crack down on bringing exotic and wild animals into these wet markets where they contaminate the food supply and human beings,'” he said.
“Bats carry this stuff, and they literally eat bats. Stop eating bats!”
As of Saturday afternoon, there were almost 1.2 million cases of coronavirus worldwide, roughly 300,000 of which are in the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
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