On the ground

A new normal for Wuhan as Chinese authorities float new theory on Covid-19 origins

A vendor holds Chinese yuan notes as a customer pays for lamb at a wet market on December 7, 2020, almost a year after the outbreak of Covid-19 in Wuhan, China.
A vendor holds Chinese yuan notes as a customer pays for lamb at a wet market on December 7, 2020, almost a year after the outbreak of Covid-19 in Wuhan, China. © Aly Song, Reuters
Text by: Charles PELLEGRIN
4 min

Almost a year has passed since the Huanan wholesale market in Wuhan, China – the suspected source of the Covid-19 pandemic – closed down. Anti-coronavirus measures in place here and at other markets have allowed business to continue, but Chinese authorities now say that imported frozen food, rather than trade in live animals, caused the virus outbreak. 

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The site of the Huanan market is hidden from view behind walls and watched over by a few policemen. A convenience store owner across the street recalls the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in late 2019. 

“There were lots of vendors who came to our store to buy stuff … I knew the virus could be very contagious, and I was scared,” she told FRANCE 24.

Among the stalls were a handful of vendors who traded in wild animals and who are blamed for enabling the animal to human transmission. But Chinese authorities now have a different theory: They say the virus was introduced by imported frozen food. 

At another market in the suburbs of Wuhan, strict protocols are in place to contain the virus. Customers must scan a QR code and have their temperatures taken.

In terms of food safety, locals are mostly worried about infected products coming in from abroad.

“We don’t dare buy imported products,” one shopper told FRANCE 24. “But everything we find in the market has already been inspected.” 

Click on the video player above to watch the FRANCE 24 report.

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