Freeland applauds the Thai Ministry of Public Health for their statement today during a public, Facebook Live press conference in Bangkok, in which they referenced a Monday news report supported by Freeland about Chatuchak market and acknowledged that wildlife trade may endanger public health. The Ministry spokesperson summarized what a Danish member of the W.H.O. investigation team sent to Wuhan told the Danish newspaper Politiken, namely that markets like Chatuchak can transmit deadly viruses and could have even been the origin of COVID-19. The Thai Ministry of Public Health is now going to collaborate with the Ministry of Environment and its Department of National Parks to closely inspect Chatuchak animal market, and to simultaneously roll out a joint plan to increase protection of wildlife and stop trade of wild animals in markets.
“We applaud this approach with cautious optimism,” said Freeland Founder, Steven Galster who provided information to Politiken for their stories on Chatuchak, while accompanying its reporter to the market on multiple occasions to document the conditions there. “Last time the government responded to media exposures about xxx last March by going to the market, spraying it down, handing out leaflets, then letting it reopen. That did not help. But it appears that this time, higher-level and cross-agency attention on this subject from the Thai Government, along with this W.H.O. rep’s express concern, may lead to more solid results. We want Thailand to end its commercial trade in wild animals, in which case this country would become a world leader in the so-called ‘One Health’ approach, which combines protection of people, animals and ecosystems as the best way to prevent pandemics.”