The Chinese Government has issued a stark warning to its population as the major Lunar New Year holiday looms.
As huge groups are expected to gather for banquets to celebrate the Year of the Ox, the government has released a poster imploring people to not eat wild animals during the festive period.
The poster shows the silhouettes of 11 animals – including crocodiles, hedgehogs, snakes, turtles and birds – on top of a prohibition sign.
The campaign urges people to not “illegally hunt, trade or eat wild animals” while using the hashtag #DontEatWildAnimalsDuringSpringFestival.
The new poster has emerged after Wuhan banned the hunting and consumption of wild animals in May, after fears the coronavirus originated at a wet market in the Chinese city.
Animal rights organisation PETA Asia also released a video that same month as part of its fight to close live-animal markets worldwide, including ones operating in the US.
The video showed cats, monkeys and birds caged up with rotten food and faeces.
“The next deadly pandemic is inevitable as long as markets filled with sick and stressed animals are still open,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.
Covid ‘most likely transmitted through an animal’
Scientists who have returned after an inquiry into the originations of coronavirus in Wuhan have deemed the virus was likely transmitted through an animal, but exactly which animal remains unclear.
Scientists found no clear link to bats, pangolins or any other wild animals.
The WHO team has dismissed suggestions the pandemic was sparked by a lab leak in Wuhan.
The delegation also found the virus may have been spread through frozen food, and could have been active in other regions or countries before the first cases emerged in Wuhan.
The People’s Daily also reports Wuhan’s Huanan seafood market may not have been the site of the first coronavirus outbreak.
Sydney virologist Dominic Dwyer has returned to Australia after spending nearly a month in China as part of the World Health Organisation-led team seeking to understand how the virus started.
The team however, has been unable to find exactly how it transmitted to humans.
Professor Dwyer credited Chinese experts for doing a great deal of work WHO had requested before the team arrived, including reviewing 76,000 case reports from 230 or so facilities in Wuhan to try and find early cases.
"When we got to the face-to-face meetings there was a lot of pressure," he told ABC radio on Thursday.
Some meetings lasted up to 15 hours with Chinese foreign affairs officials, and language barriers intensified the situation.
"It was actually very complicated and very tense," he said.
Senator blasts China over Covid inquiry
He added the answer would probably never be known and accused China of secrecy over the outbreak and its origins.
“Through this whole process China has acted like it had something to hide and it has frustrated the inquiry, dragged it out,” he told Nine on Wednesday.
“It's not really any surprise that a year on, or over a year, that it's become too hard to find the origin. We needed this inquiry to start pretty much straight away if it was any hope of finding conclusions – and it hasn't.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was among the first to call for an inquiry into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, angering China and straining relations between the two countries.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.