2020-08-12

Sale of wild animals in China market may have caused coronavirus

As seen on the March 2020 issue of Philippine Tribune

Before its closure, exotic animals — from snakes to civet cats — were available at a wet market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan that is now known as ground zero of a new virus killing people with pneumonia-like symptoms and infecting growing numbers of others around the world.

Around 100 varieties of live animals and poultry were available, from foxes to wolf cubs and masked palm civets.

Civets are thought by the World Health Organisation to have been a host carrying a virus from bats that jumped to humans in a wet market in Guangdong province near Hong Kong that led to the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002-03. SARS killed 774 people worldwide and infected a total of 8,098.

There were turtles, snakes, rats, hedgehogs and pheasants. More stalls in the west part of the market sold live animals.

In a market in Conghua district, also in Guangzhou, the sale of live poultry was legal. Live chickens were sold at 17 yuan for half a kilogram at some stands, where dozens of potential customers were in lively bargaining with stall holders, undeterred by developments in Wuhan.