- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Paul McCartney urged Tuesday for China to regulate or shutter the country’s live animal markets over their apparent connection to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The legendary musician and vocal animal rights activist spoke out against China’s so-called “wet markets” during an interview on SiriusXM with radio show host Howard Stern.

Speaking on “The Howard Stern Show,” the Beatles co-founder expressed optimism that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will trigger the Chinese government to rein in the markets once and for all.

“Let’s hope that they will say, ‘OK, guys, we have really got to get super hygienic around here,’” Mr. McCartney said.

“I mean, let’s face it,” he added. “It is a little bit medieval eating bats.”

The first documented cases of COVID-19, the infectious respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, were brought to the attention of the World Health Organization in late 2019.

Several of those initial COVID-19 cases involved people who had visited the same wet market in Wuhan, China, which quickly became the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The World Health Organization has since assessed that the virus “probably has its ecological reservoir in bats” but was transmitted to humans through an intermediate animal host.

Other potentially deadly viral diseases discovered prior to COVID-19 have previously been traced to wet markets, including SARS and the avian flu, Mr. McCartney recalled.

Siding with Mr. Stern, Mr. McCartney said he believed it would be a good idea if celebrities like themselves used their platforms to put pressure on China to close its wet markets.

“They don’t need all the people dying,” Mr. McCartney said. “And what’s it for? Just for these quite medieval practices.”

“They might as well be letting off atomic bombs, because it’s affecting the whole world,” he said later in the interview. “It’s like as if whoever is responsible for this is at war with the world and itself.”

Acknowledging efforts to shutter the long-running markets are likely to spark opposition, Mr. McCartney said: “They did slavery forever, too, but you have to change things at some point.”

More than 1.9 million people spanning over 150 countries have contracted COVID-19 since late December, according to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University. Of those, more than 125,000 people have died and over 470,000 have recovered, according to the data.

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