Frightened dogs and cats lined up in rusty cages.
Scorpions and bats were sold for sale as alternative medicine. Rabbits and ducks were being hunted and skinned next to each other and on a marble floor littered with traces of blood and filth.
These were the deeply disturbing scenes yesterday as China proclaimed its ‘triumph’ over coronavirus by restarting wretched markets of meat that initiated the pandemic three months earlier, with no obvious effort to improve hygiene levels to deter a potential epidemic.
A mail correspondent on Sunday yesterday observed as thousands of consumers congregated to a sprawling indoor market in Guilin, southwest China, as the pandemic that started in Wuhan forced countries worldwide to lockdown.
In China cages of tremendous animals were lined up on top of one another. While on the other hand reporter photographed a medicine vendor in another meat market in Dongguan, southern China, returning to work on Thursday with a billboard advertising bats – believed to be the source of the original Wuhan epidemic alongside scorpions and other animals.
The startling scenes emerged as China eventually lifted a national shutdown for weeks and allowed people to return to their everyday activities to improve the economy of their country. However, there were practically no new coronavirus cases reported by the officials.
This meat market in Guilin yesterday was filled with customers, selling fresh dog and cat meat, a popular winter ‘warming’ dish.
One of the correspondents based in China said that ‘Everybody here is of the view that the epidemic is over and there is nothing else to talk about it.
It’s just a global issue now, so far as they are concerned’.Moreover the ‘Markets have begun to work in almost the same manner as they used to work before coronavirus.
‘The one and only change is that security guards are trying to deter someone from taking images that never existed before.’
The early cases of coronavirus were traced to a market in Wuhan but officials maintained the epidemic secret for weeks and suppressed whistleblowers, particularly 33-year-old Dr Li Wenliang, who eventually died of coronavirus.
Currently, following a sharp decline in infection rates within China, the government in Beijing is spreading conspiracy theories that the epidemic did not originate at all in China. A debunked post, widely circulated on Chinese social media site Weibo, says coronavirus was first identified in November in Italy.
Chinese authorities, meantime, have spread baseless false narratives that the U.S. Military had introduced the epidemic to its shores. Wuhan was the only Chinese city still under lockdown yesterday, but perhaps the constraints were removed when high-speed trains permitted to run.