Birth of a pandemic: inside the first weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan


Interviews with patients, medical workers and residents reveal delays that had consequences for the city, the world and China’s leadership

The Huanan seafood wholesale market in central Wuhan was the kind of place where people often catch colds. Vendors started setting up as early as 3am, plunging their hands into buckets of cold water as they cleaned and prepared produce for the customers that arrived every morning.

The sprawling market of more than 20 streets spanned two sides of a main road in an upscale neighbourhood of the commercial district of Hankou. Racks of meat hung on hooks or spilled out on to plastic racks. Workers walked around in welly boots. Drains lined the kerb alongside stores selling everything from live poultry to seafood and cooking ingredients. It was crowded but clean.

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