Wet Markets Resume Function in China

Michelle Brodsky, News Editor

According to recent reports, both the coronavirus outbreak and the 2003 SARS outbreak likely originated in Chinese wet markets. Both of these diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can be transferred from animals to humans. Wet markets put dead animals in close proximity with both live animals and humans, providing the perfect opportunity for the disease to spread. Many of these “poorly-regulated, live animal markets mixed with illegal wildlife offer a unique opportunity for viruses to spill over from wildlife hosts into the human population,” the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement. In the case of SARS and COVID-19, bats were the original hosts. The bats then infected other animals which in turn gave the disease to humans. The market where the outbreak may have started, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, was closed down and China announced a temporary ban on selling and trading live animals in wet markets. According to one source, “terrified dogs and cats crammed into rusty cages. Bats and scorpions offered for sale as traditional medicine. Rabbits and ducks slaughtered and skinned side by side on a stone floor covered with blood, filth, and animal remains.” China first discovered COVID-19 back in December, and many lawmakers have accused China of hiding the outbreak. China assured the world as late as January that COVID-19 could not be spread from human to human, despite the fact that they knew otherwise.

As the number of new cases in China decreases, authorities have begun to allow wet markets to reopen, despite the fact that they are likely ground-zero for the coronavirus. Wuhan has not had a new case in over six days and the wet markets have resumed operation. “The markets have gone back to operating in exactly the same way as they did before coronavirus,” according to a Daily Mail correspondent who visited the market told the publication. “The only difference is that security guards try to stop anyone taking pictures, which would never have happened before.”