The World Health Organisation (WHO) scientist Dr. Peter Ben Embarek in his briefing on Friday said that cats are likely to be affected by the novel coronavirus, adding that they also transmit the disease to other cats. He also said that dogs are susceptible to a certain extent, but poultry and pigs are not. He added that more research is required to trace the possibility.
"So far research has shown that felines such as cats and tigers are susceptible to the virus. Study has also shown that cats can also transmit the disease to other cats. So it is this group of animals that is interesting to look at. Dogs to some extent but not as efficiently, and other domestic species like pigs and poultry, chicken, and turkey does not seem to be susceptible to the disease which is good news because we are producing these animals in a very large scale," he said.
WHO scientist Embarek, also stated that the Wuhan market had a role in virus outbreak, but more research is needed. Dr. Embarek - who is a WHO expert on food safety and zoonotic viruses, has stated that while the role was clear, its exact role is not clear yet. This is the first statement in which WHO has openly admitted the role of China's Wuhan market in the spread of the pandemic.
“The market played a role in the event, that’s clear. But what role we don’t know. Whether it was the source or amplifying setting or just a coincidence that some cases were detected in and around that market,” said Dr Peter Ben Embarek in a press briefing.
He added, "Food safety in these environments is rather difficult and therefore it's not surprising that sometimes we also have these events happening within markets". According to Ben Embarek, it might take considerable time to identify the original animal source for the new coronavirus. Embarek said while China likely has the necessary expertise to conduct such studies and has not noted any problems in China's willingness to collaborate with others.
Even after the World Health Organization (WHO) scientist Dr. Peter Ben Embarek, on Friday, stated that the Wuhan market had a role in the novel coronavirus outbreak, he opined such markets should not be shut globally.
In a press briefing, WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek said live animal markets are critical to providing food and livelihoods for millions of people globally and that authorities should focus on improving them rather than outlawing them -- even though they can sometimes spark epidemics in humans.
He said reducing the risk of disease transmission from animals to humans in these often overcrowded markets could be addressed in many cases by improving hygiene and food safety standards, including separating live animals from humans. He added that it is still unclear whether the market in Wuhan linked to the first several dozens of coronavirus cases in China was the actual source of the virus or merely played a role in spreading the disease further.