Several scientists, medical experts, and animal rights activists have increasingly called for a ban on China's wet markets where animals like bats, cats, dogs and pangolins are slaughtered and sold openly for human consumption.
The local administration of Wuhan have reportedly also banned wildlife hunting unless it is for research purposes, disease monitoring, or population control.
Wuhan authorities announced Wednesday that the consumption of wild animals is now officially banned in the city of about 11 million people which recently noticed another surge of Coronavirus cases. Hunan on Friday unveiled a compensation scheme to help breeders switch into other livestock products or herbal tea medicine.
The Chinese government is also paying farmers cash to not raise exotic animals for consumption.
New restrictions were also introduced by the city regarding the breeding of wild animals.
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According to the Independent, researchers believe the virus likely passed from animals to humans "in a "zoonotic spillover" event".
HSI China policy specialist Peter Li told AFP that similar plans to those now in place in Wuhan should be rolled out across the country. Hubei had so far reported 68,135 confirmed COVID-19 cases in total, including 50,340 in Wuhan.
Chinese authorities have made a decision to offer a one-off payment of 120 yuan ($16) per kilogram of rat snake, king rat snake and cobra, while a kilogram of the bamboo rat will be 75 yuan.
There will also be prohibitions on breeding terrestrial and aquatic wild animals for eating and bans on illegal wildlife trading, both in markets and online. In the province of Guangxi, snake breeders are already repurposing their animals for the medicine and beauty industries. The report said that their stock adds up to around 1.6 billion yuan ($225 million).
The Chinese government says it has been open, transparent, and responsible in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.