Nature and Parks Authority on Tuesday banned the entry of visitors to a host of caves across the country that serve as a natural habitat for bats, due to fear humans might transmit coronavirus and harm the flying mammals.
According to a statement, the order is a precautionary measure meant to safeguard the health of mammal populations, including bats, and especially endangered species, which, according to available scientific data, may be susceptible to COVID-19.
According to existing data, the virus was most likely first transmitted to humans from an unknown animal.
The statement said that contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence to support bats were involved in transmitting the virus to humans.
Despite several recorded incidents of humans transmitting the virus to wild animals, such as a tiger that has tested positive at a New York zoo, the authority claimed that the scope of the danger is still unknown.
At the same time, inspectors will also make sure visitors keep a safe distance from endangered wildlife populations across the nation's natural reserves to spare them from contracting the virus.
These precautions are similar to those already implemented in zoos and are based on similar recommendations published by international nature conservation organizations such as the IUCN, endangered species conservation agreements such as Eurobats, and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.