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Mass animal die-off in China due to disinfectants, authorities say

A Chinese megacity adjacent to Hubei Province, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, reported mass animal deaths Wednesday. File Photo by EPA-EFE
A Chinese megacity adjacent to Hubei Province, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, reported mass animal deaths Wednesday. File Photo by EPA-EFE

Feb. 19 (UPI) -- China is using all available measures to stop the spread of the new strain of coronavirus that has killed more than 2,000 people, but some of the state's policies are provoking backlash and unintended consequences.

China's state-owned news agency Xinhua reported Wednesday more than 100 undomesticated animals were found dead in Chongqing, a megacity in southwest China that borders Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak.

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The Chongqing Forestry Bureau said the 135 wild animals, representing 17 species, included wild boar, weasels, blackbirds and other bird species.

Following sampling and tests, Chinese authorities said some of the animals appeared to have been poisoned. Disinfectants may have been the cause of the deaths, they said. Authorities also ruled out the possibility the animals died from diseases, including COVID-19, bird flu or Newcastle disease.

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Chinese state media said Chongqing has mobilized a force of 5,300 forest rangers to monitor wildlife in the area, in addition to 200 "full-time supervisors."

The animals are to be buried and the sites to be disinfected, according to Chinese reports.

The report of the mysterious mass animal die-off is coming at a time when Chinese hospitals are under extreme pressure due to daily increases in the number of COVID-19 patients around the country.

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A recent video from Gansu News showing nurses in Gansu province "volunteering" to shave their heads before returning to their hospitals. The staged event was widely criticized on Chinese social media, according to independent news service RADII.

The media was released to boost morale and highlight the bravery of hospital staff, but the footage shows nurses sobbing during the public event.

Commenters in China said the women were being forced to shave and pointed out the ritual exposes sexist double standards among health workers, according to the report.

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