Nothing to see: COVID origins off-limits as China’s Wuhan touts restoration

Wuhan, September 6

The Huanan seafood market within the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, believed by many to be the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, is sealed behind a blue perimeter fence. A big staff of safety employees chases away anybody who lingers.

“We are just doing our job,” stated a guard in black who ordered a Reuters reporter to delete footage recorded close to the market’s fundamental gates. He recognized himself as a employee from town authorities’s epidemic prevention and management staff.

Foreign journalists have been invited on an official tour to report on Wuhan’s efforts to rebuild its economic system after the months-long trauma of COVID-19. The official message: the “heroic city” is again to regular and again in enterprise, its faculties and vacationer websites reopened and its enterprises operating at full capability.

“No other place is as safe as this,” stated Lin Songtian, president of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, a state-backed group that helped organise the tour.

The location of greater than 80% of the nation’s COVID-19 deaths, the central Chinese metropolis on the banks of the Yangtze river has reported no circumstances of native transmission since May, and a lot of the stringent controls imposed throughout a two-month lockdown have been relaxed.

But Wuhan was accused of performing too slowly within the early levels of the outbreak amid fears of disrupting the economic system or displeasing China’s management in Beijing. Critics say media censorship and the silencing of whistleblowers gave the virus extra time to unfold undetected.

Wuhan stays reluctant to permit gentle to be shed on the origins of a pathogen that has killed practically 900,000 folks worldwide.

The metropolis nonetheless restricts entry to areas just like the Huanan market, which was linked to the primary recognized cluster of infections in December.

At one other wholesale market within the far north of metropolis, which is open to the general public, Reuters was tailed by safety employees and deterred from chatting with stallholders and merchants.

“If you don’t allow people to visit these places, you give people the impression you have something to hide,” stated Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow on the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington who research the politics behind China’s well being points.


China rejects conspiracy theories surrounding the coronavirus, together with claims with out proof {that a} specialist virology institute in Wuhan manufactured it. But many unanswered questions stay in regards to the origins of COVID-19 and the function performed by the commerce in unique wildlife in Wuhan.

Though authorities closed the Huanan market in January, there’s a rising scientific consensus that the virus didn’t originate there. Some research recommend it was already in circulation by the point it reached the market, with a couple of transmission route.

“I agree with the general idea that the virus jumped into a human before the Wuhan market,” stated David Irwin, professor of medication and pathobiology on the University of Toronto. “They may have been a trader that had been exposed either directly to the virus in a host animal or interacted with farmers or other traders outside of Wuhan.”

China has proven little urge for food for a world enquiry into the origins of COVID-19 or for permitting extra scrutiny of its efforts within the early levels of the outbreak, preferring to give attention to the nation’s fast financial and psychological restoration.

“There is no doubt that China has been very successful in containing the virus, so why can’t they be more open?” stated Huang. “If you want to dispel those myths… you don’t need to worry about people visiting the market or even the virus institute.” Reuters

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