With the source of the SARs-COV2 virus being suspected as animal to human transmission in a wet market in China, there is a call by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to stop the sale of live wild animals in food markets around the world, with the exception of aquatic species like fish.
There are significant reasons why not having live wild animals in wet / food markets is necessary, including food safety, hygiene and reducing animal to human transmission. Holding animals in these environments creates waste issues, as well as blood and other bodily fluid when these animals are slaughtered on site.
Guidance has been issued by the WHO and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to make these markets much safer and to reduce the likely public health risks.
It is being recommended that sale of live wild animals in these markets should be temporarily put on hold until local authorities implement practices and monitoring to ensure that the guidance for food safety, hygiene, sanitation and environmental standards are met.
The difficulty is that in many of these markets around the world, the capture and sale of live wild animals is often the major income source for low income populations, so even halting these sales for a short time is going to have massive implications.
This is another situation where there are two competing and equally important issues, the livelihood of thousands of people around the world and the health of them and their customers, and by extension, as COVID-19 has shown, the population of the world. It has to be carefully managed and supported by local authorities and governments generally.