Better sanitation and hygiene at China’s wet markets

Wet market China

COMMENT ON NEWS: Wuhan in China, the alleged source of the coronavirus is thriving and humming along nicely, we are told. Everything is pretty well back to normal and everywhere is packed out with people, as normal. Good for them because the rest of the world is in a deep malaise and suffering from semi-chaos with politicians scratching their heads as to what to do next as a second spike destroys their confidence in how to deal with the damned pandemic. This is not a second spike. It is just that the virus returns when lockdown is eased. Common sense really.

Wet market China

Wet market China as they were. They are being cleaned up with better handling procedures and hygiene practices. Photo: AFP.

Okay, the point of this article is that in response to the pandemic, there has been a change in policy, attitude and culture with respect to the wet markets, so-called, in China. These are the wild animal markets where animals are slaughtered on the spot and taken away by customers. They disgust me and other people but this is a cultural difference. It is thought that a pangolin transmitted the disease to a person at a Wuhan wet market and the pangolin got the disease from a bat. Anyway, China has banned sales of wildlife and its products and the authorities in Wuhan have ordered all of them to meet higher sanitation standards or they must close.

On September 4, the Wuhan authorities shut 101 wet markets and renovated 312 others. These renovated wet markets have been transformed it appears to me. They look like supermarkets with hard services, strict separation of raw meat from cooked meat (at last) and proper drainage. When you saw the old markets they looked something out of a bygone age or hell depending upon your attitude. So they’ve upped their game in order to prevent another epidemic or pandemic and to avoid another zoonotic disease taking hold of the population. China’s strength is that they get things done and fast. The West is so slow and paralysed. It’s called democracy.

Unfortunately, the horse has bolted. They should have done this many, many years ago. And I want to see the West suing China for compensation when the time is right. That has to be what happens.

These new supermarkets are subjected to frequent inspections from hygiene officials. A national directive requires that workers in wet markets where masks, gloves and uniforms. Those workers who slaughter animals are required to wear waterproof aprons and rubber gloves. Also, trade in live poultry has been suspended in those places considered to be medium or high risk for the virus. Wuhan is not one of them.

As part of their monitoring process, on October 1, officials working in hygiene collected 3,600 samples from various places including medical facilities, supermarkets and public toilets. All the samples tested negative for the coronavirus. Also, random tests on 124 employees in jobs considered to be high risk for the virus tested negative as well.

Great news for China, continuing bad news for the rest of the world and it’s nice to see that they’ve made some changes but it is not enough. They need to compensate other countries for their alleged carelessness in allowing the wet markets to exist in the first place and allow a zoonotic disease to transmit to humans.