WION Edit: How the world is paying the price for China's greed and negligence

WION New Delhi Mar 23, 2020, 09.26 AM(IST) Written By: WION

Security workers wearing protective gear as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 Photograph:( AFP )

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China had years to act against wild markets and ample warnings about the dangers they pose.

The Asian flu in 1956 killed more than one million people around the world. The Sars outbreak in 2002 infected more than 8,000 people. Over 700 people died in 17 countries. The bird flu has killed hundreds. In the last 30 years, the outbreak of pandemics has been frequent.  

Do you know what's common about all these diseases?

They all originated in China and, believe it or not --- there is one factor that drives these frequent disease outbreaks -- China's live animal markets. That's also where the Wuhan coronavirus emerged.  

It is believed to have originated in the Huanan seafood market, and transferred from bats to humans. These spots-- these live animal markets--- are china's disease incubators. And Beijing knew that these markets are ticking time bombs.

China had been warned before on multiple occasions. After the Sars outbreak, many reports warned China's communist party to shut down its live animal markets and wet markets. But, china paid no heed to the warnings. It explicitly warned against live animal markets. And a few months later, in November --- the Wuhan coronavirus broke out. Once again, we say this is china's criminal negligence. It kept running a dangerous seafood market that became the birthplace of a virus. Guess what happened after the coronavirus spread in Wuhan? After the world started talking about it?

Do you know what China did? It washed out all evidence. It destroyed all links between the outbreak and the Wuhan market. Or at least tried to. China also introduced laws to temporarily ban wildlife trade. It tried to show the world that it was dealing with the situation proactively. But this was yet another cover-up.

China had years to act against wild markets and ample warnings about the dangers they pose. But it did nothing. And this is just one market. According to a report, there were nearly 2,000 wildlife farms that operated in china before the crackdown. In a live animal market or wet market --- live and dead animals from different species are put next to each other. A situation that makes it convenient for a virus to jump from animal to humans. Around the world --- this would be considered a health risk. Not in China. In China, this is a factory. The government aggressively promoted these markets. Why because they brought easy money. 

It was an easy way for the rural masses to get rich. Now the world is paying the price for this greed and negligence. China compromised on the health of its citizens and the entire world. The case study of china's live markets is a lesson for the world. Pay heed to the warnings. Commit resources towards improving early detection systems. Support science and prioritize public health over the business. Food choices are fine. But tradition should not be allowed to trump science.. Because the cost of such blunders can be too high.

(Disclaimer: WION Edit is the channel's take on the big events of the world)