It’s pretty common knowledge at this point that COVID-19, the current coronavirus disease, originated in China most likely from bats sold at meat markets.
Bats were also to blame for the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s. SARS, which is also caused by a coronavirus, originated in China like COVID-19.
Yet despite the growing body of evidence showing how the Chinese meat markets with bats create the perfect breeding ground for disease, reports are circulating that Chinese meat markets have reopened with plenty of bats for purchase.
Why can’t the all-powerful communist Chinese government shutdown this disgusting practice that creates so many problems for the rest of the world?
Watch this video explaining why bats are such a problem:
Daily Mail elaborates on reports about the Chinese markets:
Terrified dogs and cats crammed into rusty cages. Bats and scorpions offered for sale as traditional medicine. Rabbits and ducks slaughtered and skinned side by side on a stone floor covered with blood, filth, and animal remains.
Those were the deeply troubling scenes yesterday as China celebrated its 'victory' over the coronavirus by reopening squalid meat markets of the type that started the pandemic three months ago, with no apparent attempt to raise hygiene standards to prevent a future outbreak.
As the pandemic that began in Wuhan forced countries worldwide to go into lockdown, a Mail on Sunday correspondent yesterday watched as thousands of customers flocked to a sprawling indoor market in Guilin, south-west China.
Here cages of different species were piled on top of each other. In another meat market in Dongguan, southern China, another correspondent photographed a medicine seller returning to business on Thursday with a billboard advertising bats – thought to be the cause of the initial Wuhan outbreak – along with scorpions and other creatures.
The shocking scenes came as China finally lifted a weekslong nationwide lockdown and encouraged people to go back to normal daily life to boost the flagging economy. Official statistics indicated there were virtually no new infections.
The market in Guilin was packed with shoppers yesterday, with fresh dog and cat meat on offer, a traditional 'warming' winter dish.
'Everyone here believes the outbreak is over and there's nothing to worry about any more. It's just a foreign problem now as far as they are concerned,' said one of the China-based correspondents who captured these images for The Mail on Sunday.
The correspondent who visited Dongguan said: 'The markets have gone back to operating in exactly the same way as they did before coronavirus.
'The only difference is that security guards try to stop anyone taking pictures which would never have happened before.'
Of course, responses to these reports have been mostly negative.
Check some of them out below:
CNN provided the following on the problem bats pose for humans:
Reclusive, nocturnal, numerous -- bats are a possible source of the coronavirus. Yet some scientists concur they are not to blame for the transfer of the disease that's changing daily life -- humans are.
Zoologists and disease experts have told CNN that changes to human behavior -- the destruction of natural habitats, coupled with the huge number of fast-moving people now on Earth -- has enabled diseases that were once locked away in nature to cross into people fast.
Scientists are still unsure where the virus originated, and will only be able to prove its source if they isolate a live virus in a suspected species -- a hard task.
But viruses that are extremely similar to the one that causes Covid-19 have been seen in Chinese horseshoe bats. That has led to urgent questions as to how the disease moved from bat communities -- often untouched by humans -- to spread across Earth. The answers suggest the need for a complete rethink of how we treat the planet.
Bats are the only mammal that can fly, allowing them to spread in large numbers from one community over a wide area, scientists say. This means they can harbor a large number of pathogens, or diseases. Flying also requires a tremendous amount of activity for bats, which has caused their immune systems to become very specialized.
"When they fly they have a peak body temperature that mimics a fever," said Andrew Cunningham, Professor of Wildlife Epidemiology at the Zoological Society of London. "It happens at least twice a day with bats -- when they fly out to feed and then they return to roost. And so the pathogens that have evolved in bats have evolved to withstand these peaks of body temperature."
Cunningham said this poses a potential problem when these diseases cross into another species. In humans, for example, a fever is a defense mechanism designed to raise the body temperature to kill a virus. A virus that has evolved in a bat will probably not be affected by a higher body temperature, he warned.
But why does the disease transfer in the first place? That answer seems simpler, says Cunningham, and it involves an alien phrase that we will have to get used to, as it is one that has changed our lives -- "zoonotic spillover" or transfer.
"The underlying causes of zoonotic spillover from bats or from other wild species have almost always -- always -- been shown to be human behavior," said Cunningham. "Human activities are causing this."
When a bat is stressed -- by being hunted, or having its habitat damaged by deforestation -- its immune system is challenged and finds it harder to cope with pathogens it otherwise took in its stride. "We believe that the impact of stress on bats would be very much as it would be on people," said Cunningham.
"It would allow infections to increase and to be excreted -- to be shed. You can think of it like if people are stressed and have the cold sore virus, they will get a cold sore. That is the virus being 'expressed.' This can happen in bats too."