Conservationists call on effort to protect great apes from coronavirus

As the coronavirus spreads throughout the globe, conservationists are calling on efforts to protect great apes, a close relative to humans, from the deadly virus.

"We recommend that great-ape tourism be suspended and field research reduced, subject to risk assessments to maximize conservation outcomes," the letter in Nature reads. "Such efforts should include ways to offset loss of earnings from tourism, while taking care not to interfere with work to save human lives."

Habitat loss, poaching and infectious disease are some of the top threats to apes. It is unknown if the virus mortality rate is the same in apes as humans, researchers said.

There are more than 491,000 confirmed cases and 22,000 deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins world map.

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