By William J. Furney
China’s traditional food markets are back open, and coronavirus cases are emerging from them again. Has the country learned nothing from the global pandemic that’s believed to have originated from a food market in Wuhan, Hubei province, in December and gone on to infect over 7.6 million people around the world and claim more than 426,000 lives?
Australia asked China to close down its so-called wet markets, and received a swift rebuke, with threats of imposing trade sanctions on what is Australia’s largest export market. It’s all about the money, which is why suddenly rich countries like China and Saudi Arabia can swagger about and get away with murder.
The Xinfadi market in the capital, Beijing, where around 10,000 people work and is a major shopping destination for locals to buy seafood and fresh produce, as well as where wholesalers get their supplies, was shut down today after coronavirus was found on cutting boards used at fish stalls, the state-run Global Times newspaper reported. People running businesses in the market were among those who tested positive for the deadly virus, for a total of 53 so far, and the authorities have ordered lockdowns of almost a dozen residential areas in the sprawling city as efforts are under way to test everyone who works at the bustling marketplace.
It promoted the capital to go into “wartime mode” amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus infection not only in China but around the world, and plans to reopen schools further in Beijing are now on hold as health authorities scramble to carry out tests and see if there is a new cluster of infections. They appear to be carrying out spot-checks — if not checking every Beijing resident — to determine who has recently been at the Xinfadi market, according to a Reuters reporter who lives 15km from the central market but today received a knock on her door to ask.
As Saturday wore on, the authorities shuttered more traditional food markets around the city, for a total of six so far, and supermarkets including French-owned Carrefour were halting the sale of fish, particularly imported salmon, as coronavirus was detected on a chopping board at Xinfadi market used for the popular pink-fleshed fish.
One party, Communist-ruled China has come in for blistering criticism of its handling of the coronavirus outbreak — as has the World Health Organisation and its apparent attempts to suck-up to the emerging superpower, prompting Donald Trump to pull the plug on the US’ majority financial contribution — and few believe what it says. Of a population of nearly 1.4 billion people, there have been 4,638 deaths from just over 84,000 cases of infection. Compare that to the death tolls in the tens of thousands in such European countries as the UK, Italy and Spain, which have far lower populations, and the United States, which has under a quarter of China’s population but has over 114,000 deaths from more than 2 million cases of infection.
Chinese authorities initially tried to suppress information about a new and deadly virus, threatening doctors who tried to raise the alarm and even suggesting that the United States was somehow responsible for the novel coronavirus’ jumping from a species thought to be a bat to humans. Its diplomats, at home and abroad, have been on a rabid offensive ever since.
At the time people were being infected at the Xinfadi market, two coronavirus cases were recorded at an institution around 6km away called the China Meat Food Comprehensive Research Center, Global Times said. The center says on its website that it’s focused on “conducting basic research in meat science, carrying out applied technology research, engineering development, and new product development in meat processing, and promoting scientific research results to the entire industry.”
“One of the confirmed cases from the center has been to the market to conduct supervision and another confirmed case reported on Thursday had also been to the beef and lamb trade center of Xinfadi market to purchase food,” the report said.
“The beef and lamb trading hall mainly sells beef and mutton, poultry meat, aquatic products and spices. The Xinfadi Market is more of a one-stop-shop where wholesalers in the city would purchase vegetables, meat and seafood, hall after hall.
“The fear regarding salmon and seafood being a source of infection causes a series of aftershocks.”
It was meat that got us into this gargantuan mess in the first place, and it’s meat that continues to pose a threat to humankind, and not just from a hardened, flu-like virus. Why does the majority of Earth’s population remain slaves to decaying, hazardous animal flesh, when there’s an easy answer to our dietary woes: plants. It’s no wonder veganism is soaring.
And it’s the toxic Chinese Communist Party that is a continuing threat to the rest of the world — unaccountable; attempting to snub out democracy in Hong Kong; blithely and disgracefully trying to pretend that Tiananmen Square did not happen, when troops may have slaughtered at least 10,000 people in pro-democracy protests in 1989; and preventing its own people from being part of the wonders of the World Wide Web and all the freely available information a civilised world needs.
The day of reckoning for the inhuman mandarins in Beijing cannot be far off; their positions, on an array of issues, including Tibet, are increasingly untenable, and it cannot be long before the masses truly rise up and will not be quieted.
This week I got tested for coronavirus antibodies, with a pricey device from Chinese company Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech that looks like a pregnancy-testing kit and claims to deliver results in just 15 minutes.
It’s a dud, as the British government found out to its £16 million cost, and, just like the Chinese government, it’s not fit for purpose.
- Title image is an undated photograph showing customers and staff at Xinfadi market in Beijing, the scene of a new coronavirus outbreak. Credit: Li Hao/Global Times