File photo. iStock/SCQBJ-JZ (WUHAN) — Even as the Chinese city of Wuhan emerges from its 76-day lockdown, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where the first cluster of COVID-19 was detected in December, remains shuttered and heavily guarded.
Wuhan’s other so-called “wet markets,” however, are now back in business as residents adjust to a new normal.
ABC News visited one of the largest markets in the city, the Baishazhou Agricultural Products Market, which remained open throughout the outbreak to provide fresh produce for Wuhan residents quarantined inside their homes.
According to China Daily, a state-owned English newspaper, 2,300 tons of fresh produce and meat were being purchased daily at the Baishazhou Market at the height of Wuhan’s lockdown in mid-February. Purchases were delivered to local residential communities and then distributed to homes by volunteers.
Wet markets are how the majority of people in China and the rest of Asia get their fresh produce at affordable prices. Many of these markets no longer have livestock for sale and even fewer sell wild animals as bush meat.
Propaganda banners now hang over the entrance to Baishazhou: “Resolutely ban live poultry sales and severely crack down on wildlife trade!” The Chinese government recently stopped the sale and consumption of wild animals in response to the coronavirus.
“Especially since Huanan got into trouble, our market has been strictly managed,” a meat vendor at Baishazhou told ABC News. “Nobody wants to become the second ‘Huanan Market.’ Everyone is scared.”
A Baishazhou Market billboard said 10 cases of COVID-19 have been detected on site, though it’s unclear if the infected were market vendors or customers. The sick have recovered, according to the billboard.
Asia’s wet markets have been heavily scrutinized because of the exotic wild animals that were once for sale inside. Scientists believe the conditions inside the markets and close proximity between the wildlife and humans make them a perfect launching pad for a new virus to jump between species.
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