PETA under fire for linking coronavirus, meat consumption

Animal rights organisation PETA has come under fire for pointing out a link between coronavirus and meat consumption.

The deadly coronavirus - officially called COVID-19 - has infected tens of thousands of people and killed more than 2000 worldwide. It has caused widespread economic damage across the globe, with many countries imposing stringent travel regulations on those travelling through or from China - where the outbreak began.

While research continues, it is currently understood the illness spread from an animal market in the Chinese centre of Wuhan. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it could have originated from bats and then spread to humans via an intermediate animal, which has not yet been identified. There has been speculation that pangolins could be that intermediary. 

PETA has now seized on the link between the illness and animals, noting that coronavirus is an anagram of carnivorous.

"Coincidence? We think not!" the animal rights organisation tweeted.

The tweet included an image which said: "Scientists have a hunch that contact with live animals or their dead flesh may be the source of the deadly virus."

Coronavirus refers to a family of viruses. According to WHO, all are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word 'coronavirus' is derived from the latin words Corona and virus. Corona means "garland worn on the head as a mark of honour or emblem of majesty" while virus means a "venom or poison". The corona refers to the sugary proteins surrounding the particle when viewed under a microscope that appear like a crown.

PETA's tweet had been mocked for some for taking advantage of the outbreak. 

"I wish there was an option to report this. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Yet another reason nobody takes you seriously as an organisation any more," said one person.

"And peta is an anagram of EAT PETs coincidence I think not," said another. 

"How does that work in different languages?  In het Duits is het vegenist?"