COVID-19 is zoonotic, nature can take no more – M’membe

[By Changala Sichilongo]

FRED M’membe says the world needs to strengthen environmental protection.

He stresses that COVID-19 is zoonotic and a direct warning that nature can take no more.

In his message to commemorate the World Environment Day which fell on June 5, the Socialist Party leader called for laws that would protect the environment.

“Now is not the time to set aside environmental laws and norms. We need to strengthen environmental protection. We need to keep our wild spaces wild, stop deforestation and restore degraded land to protect biodiversity, boost food production and store carbon,” he said. “COVID-19 has hammered home that addressing inequality is one of humanity’s biggest pieces of unfinished business. The World Bank estimates that COVID-19 is likely to cause the first increase in global poverty since 1998. We cannot afford to delay environmental action, as it is the poorest and most vulnerable that will suffer the most. This is why we say it’s time for nature.”

He bemoaned humanity’s neglect of the environment, adding that the Coronavirus could have been detected a long time ago since it came from animals.

Dr M’membe said the World Environment Day called for celebration of nature.

“It is a day upon which, for over forty years, people the world over have advocated and acted for a healthy environment. Today we are marking this day under COVID-19 restrictions and cannot do things the usual way,” Dr M’membe added. “And this in itself tells us that something is terribly wrong with our stewardship of the Earth. This virus is not bad luck, or a one-off event that nobody could see coming. It is an entirely predictable result of humanity’s destruction of nature – which will cause far greater suffering if left unchecked.”

He said COVID-19 was a warning that nature could no longer take any more human neglect of it.

“COVID-19, which was transmitted from animals to humans, is a direct warning that nature can take no more. COVID-19 is zoonotic, a type of disease that transmits between animals and humans. We are facing it in large part because humanity’s expansion into wild spaces and exploitation of species brings people into closer contact with wildlife,” said Dr M’membe. “COVID-19 may be one of the worst, but it is not the first. 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases are of zoonotic origins. Ebola, SARS, the Zika virus and bird flu all spread from animals to people, often due to human encroachment on nature.”

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