Last August, I wrote two articles on the coronavirus pandemic – one explaining how the virus passed from animals to humans, probably via a wildlife market in China, and another exploring how the subsequent lockdowns impacted wildlife and the environment across the world. They were meant to be brief, exploratory articles rather than comprehensive studies and, barring any future major events that directly affected the natural world, I had no plans to write any follow-ups.
Coronavirus disease 19 (or COVID-19) is suspected to have originated at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, in the central Chinese province of Hubei, in December 2019. Wet markets such as this – ‘wet’ because of the melting ice used to preserve goods – are where traders sell fresh meat, fish and produce. Some, however, also sell live animals, which can be slaughtered and skinned for the customer upon purchase, to demonstrate their freshness.