Recent reporting suggests that cats, dogs, and cats are being sold again for human consumption in China’s wet markets, despite concerns about the spread of diseases like the coronavirus that continues to ravage countries around the globe.
As China claims to have gotten control of COVID-19, “wet markets” — where people can buy wild and domestic animals to eat — are resuming business, according to correspondents for the U.K Daily Mail. The paper described graphic scenes in two Chinese cities where the wildlife trade has resumed, even as the world grapples with a deadly virus that likely originated in just such a market.
Wet markets resume operations
While it isn’t known exactly how the coronavirus started, wet markets in Wuhan, China, the virus’ likely point of origin, are suspected to have played a role. Researchers have said that the coronavirus likely started in a bat and then spread to humans via scaly mammals called pangolins. Wet markets have long been viewed as breeding grounds for deadly viruses — the SARS outbreak in 2002-3 is also believed to have started in a Chinese wet market — given their concentration of wild animals held in filthy conditions.
In wet markets, exotic animals like bats and snakes, as well as domesticated animals like dogs, are sold for humans to consume as food and medicine. The coronavirus outbreak prompted China to ban the wildlife trade, but things don’t appear to have changed much in two Chinese cities where business as usual has resumed.
In the city of Guilin, a correspondent found an indoor market bustling with thousands of customers and cats and dogs, intended for human consumption, crowded together in cages. In the city of Dongguan, a vendor advertised bats and scorpions to be consumed as medicine. Correspondents there said that nothing had changed, despite China’s vows to do something about the problematic wildlife trade.
If anything, security guards are extra vigilant about people taking pictures now. The Mail supplied just three images, but what they depict is plenty disturbing.
“The markets have gone back to operating in exactly the same way as they did before coronavirus,” the Daily Mail correspondent said. “The only difference is that security guards try to stop anyone taking pictures which would never have happened before.”
China’s behavior threatens world
The shocking reports come at the same time that life as most people know it has come to a frightening standstill all around the world. In America, thousands have died, and millions have lost their jobs. That something so awful might have started with people eating strange animals is shocking — that it is still happening is unforgivable.
Then again, China isn’t exactly bending over backwards to make amends for the deadly outbreak. The Trump administration has accused China of hiding news of the virus as it started spreading, and some believe that China is continuing to disguise the true totals of sick and dead. Although America is said to have overtaken China in the number of cases and deaths, many are skeptical of the supposedly official figures.
The country’s government admitted this week that it was not counting those who were infected but not showing symptoms, and residents in Wuhan have said that they suspect the real death toll is many factors higher than the government has revealed.
Experts say that wet markets took off in the 1970s, when government reforms were instituted that allowed starving farmers, suffering under Chinese communism, to begin harvesting wild animals. Decades later, China is still struggling (or is it even trying?) to get control of the wildlife trade.
So after unleashing a deadly virus on the world and trying to cover it up, it appears that China is doing virtually nothing to prevent a crisis like this one from happening again.