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A year later, the Wuhan market, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, remains empty on a barricade.

December 11, 2020

Kate Kadel

Wuhan, China (Reuters) – For over six years, 38-year-old Wuhan restaurant owner Laiyun started most days the same – on a trip to the Wuhan seafood wholesale market, just a 10-minute walk from his home. ..

“I send my kids to school, have breakfast, and then walk to the market. It was very convenient,” he said.

The situation changed on December 31, 2019, after four cases of mysterious pneumonia were market-related and closed overnight. By the end of the month, the city had begun a severe 76-day blockade, which came with just a few hours of notice, banning people from leaving the house.

Almost a year after the outbreak began, COVID-19 killed more than 1.5 million people, and the first Wuhan fresh market detected was empty despite the resurgence of surrounding cities.

It has become a symbol of a fierce political and scientific battle over the origin of the virus, and Beijing continues to condemn prejudice with the United States and other countries.

A team of experts from the World Health Organization has not yet visited Wuhan, let alone the market. Health officials in China and abroad have warned that origin tracking efforts can take years and may not yield definitive results.

In Wuhan, which is heavily stigmatized as the epicenter of the first coronavirus, more than 12 residents and business owners told Reuters that they don’t think the virus had started in the city.

“It certainly couldn’t have been Wuhan … Certainly someone else brought it in, or certainly it came from another product brought in from outside. There are certain conditions to be displayed here. There was, “said a vendor in the fresh market in the city center named Chen.

In recent months, Chinese diplomats and state media have cast support behind the theory that the market is a victim, not the origin of the disease, and that the virus may have originated in other countries. It states that there is.

Restricted access

Experts say the market is still involved in research and is unlikely to be demolished, but much of that research relies on samples taken shortly after the outbreak began.

“Since the first group of cases was there, at least we found their origins and some, such as whether it was likely to be from wildlife, or perhaps pointing to a human superspreader. It would be interesting to make a hypothesis. ” Jin Dong Yang, Professor of Virology, University of Hong Kong.

Access to this area remains severely restricted. People who visited before the blockade remember the bustling building with hundreds of stalls divided into sections of lean meat, seafood and vegetables.

Recently, local governments have added lush green plants and traditional Chinese paintings to the semi-permanent blue barricades that surround the area. Wooden boards are lined up in the store and in the windows.

On the second floor above the empty market, a store selling eyeglasses and optometry equipment reopened in June.

This week, security guards at the entrance to the eyewear market measured the temperature and warned journalists not to take videos or photos from inside the building.

“Maybe some people have a bad feeling about it, but now it’s just an empty building … who is worried about an empty building?” Named for the sensitivity of the subject. A clerk who sells contact lenses that weren’t listed said.

Wuhan has not reported new cases of locally infected COVID-19 since May, but it is still struggling for those who rely on market making.

Lai, who reopened a Japanese restaurant in June, said the cost of procuring some ingredients has increased five-fold due to the closure of the market and the subsequent public panic about the safety of imported seafood.

“Our goal next year is just to survive.”

(Report by Cate Cadell; edited by Edwina Gibbs)



A year later, the Wuhan market, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, remains empty on a barricade.

Source link A year later, the Wuhan market, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, remains empty on a barricade.

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