Coronavirus: Bat roast dishes continue to fly off shelves in exotic markets despite link with deadly disease

Bats, rats and snakes are being sold at an Indonesian market despite the government's request to take them off the menu


                            Coronavirus: Bat roast dishes continue to fly off shelves in exotic markets despite link with deadly disease
(Getty Images)

Weeks after bats were linked to the transmission of the deadly coronavirus into humans, wild animals are still being sold in some markets, including those of Indonesia. Reports state that bats, rats and snakes are being sold at an Indonesian market popular for its wildlife offerings despite the government's request to take them off the menu.

The novel coronavirus disease, named COVID-19, has claimed over 1,300 lives and infected more than 60,000 people in China alone. The virus, ever since its outbreak in December 2019, has spread to at least 27 countries across the world.

A patient is transferred by an ambulance to the Infectious Disease Centre of Princess Margaret Hospital on January 22, 2020 in Hong Kong, China (Getty Images)

Vendors at the Tomohon Extreme Meat market on Sulawesi island have reportedly said that their business has seen a boost as curious tourists continue arriving at the market to try the exotic meats displayed there. Stenly Timbuleng, who sells bats at his stall, told the Daily Mail that "sales continue... it is always sold out."

The deadly novel coronavirus, which first emerged in a wet wildlife market of Wuhan, China, is suspected to have originated from bats, according to scientists. The local government and health agency in Indonesia have issued calls to take bats and other wildlife out of circulation from the markets. The government's consistent requests, however, have been ignored by vendors.

Customers buy roasted bat at Langowan traditional market on August 9, 2014 in Langowan, North Sulawesi. The Langowan traditional market is famous for selling a variety of extreme food such as dogs, bats, rats, wild boar, and snakes (Getty Images)

Minahasan people from North Sulawesi traditionally eat bats in the form of a curry-like dish called Paniki. Whole bats are used in the dish, including the head and the wings. However, glands from their armpits and necks are removed to do away with the bad odor emanating from the animals. They are then cooked in a stew of herbs, spices and coconut milk. Measures are also taken to get rid of bat hair by grilling them.

William W. Wongso, an Indonesian culinary expert and cookbook author, said: "Bats are the favorite indigenous protein, particularly in North Sulawesi. My favorite part is the wings," the outlet reported.

A bat seller, identified as Stenly Timbuleng, said that his products are still selling for as much as 60,000 rupiah (£3.40). "The virus hasn't affected sales. My customers still keep coming," he said, adding that he sells 50-60 bats on an average day and up to nearly 600 during festive periods.

The number of fatalities from the coronavirus soared on Thursday, February 13, with 242 more deaths and nearly 15,000 extra patients diagnosed with the infection in China. Indonesia, however,  has not reported a confirmed case of the virus yet.

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