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Virus is no 'act of God': look to the wildlife trade

Lay of the Land

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'Maybe they were in one of the supermarkets on the outskirts of town, where some folk were practising a savage form of social distancing by stockpiling so others had to go without essential goods.' Stock photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

'Maybe they were in one of the supermarkets on the outskirts of town, where some folk were practising a savage form of social distancing by stockpiling so others had to go without essential goods.' Stock photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Getty Images

'Maybe they were in one of the supermarkets on the outskirts of town, where some folk were practising a savage form of social distancing by stockpiling so others had to go without essential goods.' Stock photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

This Mother's Day finds many mna na hEireann at the end of their tether, what with children at home because creches and schools are closed, thanks to the mother of all viruses.

"All the mothers will come in here to get their hair done, just to get a break from their kids," joked the proprietor of a hair salon in this country town, not long before her stylish sanctuary was also set to close. It was already almost empty when I went in a week before; it's cosy stove-warmed interior even more sparkling clean than usual.

"I've no nostrils left from all the disinfectant," she ruefully laughed. Despite this, people had been phoning all morning, cancelling appointments to get their hair done for Confirmations that had been called off. Some just never turned up.

Maybe they were in one of the supermarkets on the outskirts of town, where some folk were practising a savage form of social distancing by stockpiling so others had to go without essential goods.

"Someone grabbed a carton of milk out of the hands of one of my assistants this morning," she said.

Though that's the least of her worries.

"If this place closes for two weeks, that's it, I'm gone. I've still got to pay bills, even if I'm doing no business."

The stress must be unbelievable for this smart business woman, who only a few months before was telling me with rightful pride that her salon is not just how she makes her living but also provides a vital service, being a social outlet for many, where they enjoy the craic and cup of tea that comes with their hairdo.

So how can it be right that such business owners have no guarantee of getting help or compensation for a catastrophe not of their making?

Especially when these backbones of our communities give our towns their charm and character, not to mention employing many people?

Apparently their insurance won't cover the virus as it is classified as an 'act of God'. Yet could it be that the opposite is the case, and it is a consequence of our ungodly treatment of our fellow creatures - where nothing is sacred but our appetites.

Nothing is out of bounds if it means business.

According to Wang Song, a retired researcher of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, "in many people's eyes, animals are living for man, not sharing the earth with man".

This attitude has fuelled China's live wild animal trade, where bats are among many creatures that are brutally treated even before they are blow-torched to death and displayed alongside similarly tortured dogs, cats, rats, snakes, alligators and other animals.

It has contributed to the spread of zoonotic disease - those transmitted from animals to humans - 70pc of which come from wildlife and are notoriously devastating, from HIV, Ebola, and SARS, to being the chief suspect in this latest virus.

Sunday Independent