BEIJING, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Chinese authorities announced Sunday that trading of wild animals will be suspended nationwide to curb the spreading of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
The ban will become effective immediately and shall not be lifted until the epidemic is declared over, said a joint statement issued by the State Administration for Market Regulation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.
The decision came after the geographical distribution of infection cases in central China's Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus outbreak, indicated a close relationship between the outbreak and illegal sales of wildlife in a market.
Any form of wildlife trade will be strictly prohibited on platforms including marketplaces, supermarkets, dining places and e-commerce sites, according to the statement.
Authorities ordered all sites raising wild animals to be quarantined and forbade the transportation and selling of wild animals from these sites.
Any businesses and operators breaching the ban shall be shut down. And if the violations are serious enough, the suspects shall be handed over to police for criminal investigation, the statement said.
Local governments should enhance supervision to prevent violations to the ban, and the public should be fully aware of the health risks in consuming wild animals, it said.
Up to 1,975 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus, including 324 in critical condition, had been reported in the country by the end of Saturday, according to Chinese health authorities.