Shocking pictures show notorious Indonesian wet market still open despite links to coronavirus – The Sun

SHOCKING pictures show one notorious wet market is still operating – trading dogs, cats and bats despite links to coronavirus.

The animals were seen being flogged by vendors at a market in northern Indonesia known for its exotic wildlife offerings despite government and global pressure to shut down.

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Despite government and health agencies urging vendors to take bats and other wildlife off the market, vendors at the Tomohon Extreme Meat market on Sulawesi island say business is booming.

Even curious tourists take the trip to check out the exotic meats.

Bat seller Stenly Timbuleng said the worldwide pandemic "has not affected sales".

“In fact… sales continue. It is always sold out," he explained.

Timbuleng said his products are still selling for as much as 60,000 rupiah (£3.40).

“It [the coronavirus] has not affected sales.In fact… sales continue. It is always sold out.

On an average day, he can sell 50-60 bats and during festive periods, he can sell up to 600.

"My customers still keep coming," he added.

Research suggests the coronavirus which originated in Wuhan, China, might have originated in bats in a market selling illegal wild animals before being passed on to humans.

BAT CUISINE

Bats are traditionally eaten by the Minahasan people from North Sulawesi in the form of a curry-like dish called Paniki.

Whole bats are used in the dish, including the head and wings of the bat.

Glands from the armpits and the neck of the bat are first removed to get rid of the bad smell.

It is then grilled or torched to get rid of the bat's hairs before being chopped and cooked in a stew of herbs, spices and coconut milk.

William W. Wongso, an Indonesian culinary expert and cookbook author, said: "Bats are the favourite indigenous protein, particularly in North Sulawesi".

"My favourite part is the wings," he added.

The controversial Indonesian market sells a bizarre array of meats including giant snakes, rats impaled on sticks and charred dogs with their hair seared off by blowtorches.

Ruddy Lengkong, head of the area's government trade and industry agency, has urged people not to consume meat from animals suspected to be carrying the disease.

Professor R. Wasito, of the Veterinary Pathology Department of University Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, said markets like these were "breeding grounds" for the virus.

“Tomohon Extreme Market and other markets selling wildlife in Indonesia are potentially breeding grounds for the coronavirus,” he said.

OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Despite expert advice, both China and Vietnam has allowed the wildlife trade to continue after the World Health Organisation gave the green light for the markets to reopen, despite their own country-wide ban.

In Wuhan the controversial wet markets were back up and running last week while the rest of the world battles to contain the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, the city celebrated the end of its strictly enforced, months-long lockdown, with China state TV showing its contentious food markets reopening to customers.

Last week, Downing street and governments across the world called for China to enforce the ban.

A spokesperson said: "We want to see them enforce that ban.

"That includes banning wildlife markets, banning the sale of wildlife in wet markets and taking strong action against anyone who does.

"Wet markets can be a high risk environment for transmission of viruses from animals to humans.

"They have announced a ban, we want to see them enforce it."

China has previously brought in bans because of epidemics and then relaxed them.

After the SARS outbreak in 2003, which, like COVID-19, was traced to a wet market, China put a ban on markets and the wild-animal trade industry.

But only months after the WHO declared the SARS virus contained, China lifted the ban.

Director General of the WHO Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said they were working on improving hygiene standards in wet markets.

He said: "When these markets are allowed to reopen it should only be on the condition that they conform to stringent food safety and hygiene standards."

"Governments must rigorously enforce bans on the sale and trade of wildlife for food."

He added: "An estimated 70 per cent of all new viruses come from animals, we also work together closely [with the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO, of the United Nations] to understand and prevent pathogens crossing from animals to humans."

NO LOCKDOWN

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has also been criticised for failing to enforce a complete nation-wide lockdown or enact strict social distancing measures.

To date, Widodo has only introduced a patchwork of partial lockdown measures, reportedly saying he believes a complete lockdown is incompatible with the population’s discipline and culture and would hurt the economy.

“The Indonesian government’s response to Covid-19 has been slow, unclear and fractured,” Fitch Solutions said in a report.

Indonesia's capital Jakarta, the epicentre of the country's infections, has enacted tougher social distancing measures than elsewhere in the country where unrestricted movement continues.

There are currently 8,211 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Indonesia and 869 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Experts anticipate with no coherent lockdown plans, the numbers will escalate.

Last week, Thousands of Muslim men were seen packed tightly together at a Friday prayer service in the religiously conservative province of Aceh, Indonesia, to mark the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.




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