Paul McCartney to Howard Stern: Chinese wet markets should be shut down

WATCH: Paul McCartney on 'The Howard Stern Show' discussing living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paul McCartney called into The Howard Stern Show on Tuesday to speak not only about how he was coping with being in quarantine during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but also his thoughts on “wet markets” in China.

Wet markets are open marketplaces with stalls selling fresh meat and fish. They’re considered a traditional form of food retail in large Asian cities and often regarded, as McCartney pointed out, to be “unsanitary.”

After discussing the era of the novel coronavirus and self-isolation, host Howard Stern asked the former Beatle for his opinion on the Asian markets — which are the heavily suspected to be the source of the Wuhan, China-spawned illness.

McCartney, 77, openly shared his beliefs that the Chinese government should ban wet markets after suggesting that the SARS epidemic and Avian flu among “all sorts of over” viruses were initially brought on by their “unsanitary practices.”

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Sir Paul McCartney performs live on stage at the O2 Arena during his Freshen Up tour, on Dec. 16, 2018 in London, England. Jim Dyson/Getty Images

“I really hope that this will mean that the Chinese government —  who you say ‘have got power’ — says ‘OK, guys, we have really got to get super hygienic around here,'” said McCartney.

“Let’s face it, it is a little bit medieval, eating bats,” he added, referring to the rumours that COVID-19 was brought upon after the unknown “patient zero” ate a bat from a wet market.

“In markets, or anywhere where non-human animals and humans have close contact with each other, we see [the spread of viruses],” Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, told Global News back in January.
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While not explicitly backing McCartney’s recent claim, Dr. Bogoch added, “That’s what happened with the SARS outbreak in 2002,” suggesting COVID-19 may indeed have stemmed from a wet market in Wuhan.

Click to play video: '‘Many investigations’ taking place in China about animal-source of novel coronavirus'
‘Many investigations’ taking place in China about animal-source of novel coronavirus

“Have you stopped eating bats, Paul?” Stern asked McCartney jokingly.

“Yeah… but Ozzy hasn’t,” replied the rock icon, referring to heavy metal pioneer Ozzy Osbourne, who bit the head off of a bat while performing onstage in 1982. He supposedly thought it was a toy.

“Ozzy was the originator of all that,” Stern, 66, added with a laugh.

“We can blame it on Ozzy,” joked McCartney.

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“It is really mind-boggling that the Chinese government won’t shut that stuff down — which is what’s getting us into all this trouble,” said Stern. “Like you say, it’s not the first time they’ve done this. There’s something weird in it.”

Howard Stern is seen arriving at the ABC studio for ‘Good Morning America’ on May 9, 2019 in New York City. Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

The New York City-based broadcaster continued: “You being Paul McCartney, you should really just tell them to cut the crap and they’ll listen, because you’re Paul McCartney.”

“Don’t they listen to Paul? Paul has that power,” chimed in co-host Robin Quivers.

McCartney then agreed with the co-hosts saying that maybe if they banded together and protested the wet markets that they may eventually be shut down by the Chinese government.

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On shutting down wet markets altogether, McCartney said, “It’s not a stupid idea, it is a very good idea… for them! Not just us. They don’t need all these people dying.”

“What’s it for?” he questioned. “All these medieval practices… They just need to clean up their act.”

The Yesterday singer then admitted he was optimistic that the results of the COVID-19 pandemic might “lead to” the demise of wet markets.

“If this doesn’t, I don’t know what will,” he continued. “When you’ve got the obscenity of some of the stuff that’s going on there and what comes out of it, they might as well be letting off atomic bombs, because it’s affecting the whole world.”

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“Whoever is responsible for this is at war with the world and itself,” he added.

You can hear McCartney’s most recent interview on The Howard Stern Show in full through SiriusXM — which can be streamed for free until May 15.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Click to play video: 'Answering kids’ COVID-19 questions: Did a bat start the outbreak?'
Answering kids’ COVID-19 questions: Did a bat start the outbreak?

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

— With files from Global News’ Rachel D’Amore

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