Wet market of Wuhan, the epicentre of Coronavirus (COVID-19)


Do we know the difference between a Wet Market and Dry Market?

Certainly, we all would have heard the news that the epicenter of coronavirus (COVID-19) is being reported to a wet market of Wuhan in the Hubei province of China.

A “wet market” is a market selling live animals, meat, fishes, sea-food animals, and other perishable meat items. However, a “dry market” sells durable goods such as dry food items, vegetarian eatables, fabric and electronic item etc. These markets are very common in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Latin America, and several other places scarred here and there.

In general, the wet markets keep spreading human diseases and there are lots of examples reported till now. Due to openness, newly introduced animals may come in direct contact with shop keepers, butchers, and also to customers. Insects, such as flies and rodents have relatively easy access to the food products and help in out spreading the disease. Carcasses of animals are sometimes thrown on the floor to be butchered. The avian flu, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreaks are being traced back to be associated with live animals in the wet markets, where the potential for zoonotic transmission (animal disease transmitted to humans) is greatly increased. The SARS outbreak in 2003 was traced to a wet market in the southern Guangdong Province and the ongoing COVID-19 to Wuhan wet market.

Wet markets comprising of myriad kinds of wild animals, including endangered animals, for meat purpose, have created a huge misery and unimaginable danger to mankind. About sixty million Americans caught the H1N1 “swine flu” virus in 2009, while the SARS outbreak killed almost 800 people worldwide. Presently, the COVID-19 has officially killed about 19,000 people worldwide, however the unofficial tally is several folds greater, and counting of human death is still souring on day by day. So far, the proper vaccine and even medications are out of reach against this novel COVID-19 disease.

The COVID-19 disease is caused by a novel virus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), which has also been referred to as the 2019 novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). It is primarily being spread between people via respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. The human lungs are the organs most affected by COVID-19 because the virus accesses host cells via the enzyme ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme-2), which is most abundant in the type-II alveolar cells of the lungs. The virus uses a special surface glycoprotein called a “spike” (peplomer) to connect to ACE2 and enter the host cell. The specific arrangements of spikes over the pleomorphic (keep changing the structure) virus, show off an appearance resembling corona of the Sun, and thus called as Coronavirus.

I am fortunate to see myself several indoor “Wet Markets” of sea-food animals and other non-conventional animal meat shops in the Hong Kong, while I had visited there over a Student Exchange Program with a group of students of my University to the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in 2018. I just recall back that extra-ordinary smell and so colorful non-vegetarian items all-around in the market. Such memories are indeed indelible as I am vegetarian and to glance such new world was ecstatic and overwhelming to me.


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