Vietnam imposes fines for transporting wildlife from epidemic areas

By Bao Ha    February 24, 2020 | 09:30 pm PT
Vietnam imposes fines for transporting wildlife from epidemic areas
The new strain of coronavirus may be linked to fruit bats, Chinese scientists found. Photo by Shutterstock.
Individuals and organizations transporting wild animals from areas hit by an ongoing epidemic will be fined VND20-30 million ($860-$1,300).

A new decree that took effect last week aims to discourage wildlife trade and consumption amidst the latest global epidemic caused by a zoonotic virus (where the animal-human species barrier is jumped).

Under the decree, those carrying fresh, semi-processed or processed animal products from existing countries or territories hit by dangerous diseases originating from the animals face fines of up to $1,300 upon entering or transiting in Vietnam.

Carrying wildlife into Vietnam could also be fined between VND5-400 million ($216-17,300) if the animals are deemed rare.

The new fine is a reflection of greater cognizance being given to the increasing incidence of zoonotic diseases like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The SARS outbreak in 2002, which infected over 8,000 people and killed 774 people in 37 countries, was a coronavirus transmitted from bats through masked palm civets as intermediate hosts before reaching humans.

In 2012, the MERS outbreak infected 2,494 and cost 858 human lives. This one was caused by a coronavirus passing from dromedary camels to humans.

The recent African Swine Fever (ASF) that swept through China, Vietnam and nine other countries, leading to millions of pigs dying or being killed, and caused severe economic losses, has been attributed to a virus from wild African pigs.

It is surmised that the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) could have also originated from bats that pass on the virus to humans through an intermediate host.

Leaders of 14 non-profit nature and wildlife conservation organizations have collectively urged Vietnam government to identify and close wildlife markets to contain the spread of diseases.

Vietnam has so far recorded 16 Covid-19 infections, 15 of whom have been discharged from hospital.

As of Tuesday, the global death toll had climbed to 2,699 and confirmed infections topped 80,000. More than 27,000 patients have recovered.

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