Live coro­n­avirus found on pack­ag­ing

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By YANG WANLI yang­wanli@ chi­nadaily. com. cn

The Chi­nese Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion an­nounced it had de­tected live novel coro­n­avirus on the outer pack­ag­ing of im­ported frozen cod in the eastern coastal city of Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince, but con­firmed that the pub­lic was at low risk of in­fec­tion from touch­ing or eat­ing cold- chain food.

The CDC an­nounced the find­ing on its web­site on Sat­ur­day.

It is the first time in the world that live novel coro­n­avirus has been iso­lated from the outer pack­ag­ing of cold- chain food, the CDC said.

“It has proved that con­tact with pack­ag­ing con­tam­i­nated by the live novel coro­n­avirus could lead to in­fec­tion. Peo­ple who work in the frozen cod in­dus­try are at high risk,” it said. “The new find­ing is also a re­minder for us to pay more at­ten­tion to the risks from im­ported frozen food.”

The find­ing was made dur­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to trace the source of re­cent in­fec­tions re­ported in Qing­dao. Between Oct 11 and Tues­day, the city re­ported a clus­ter of 12 con­firmed coro­n­avirus cases.

The out­break prompted a cam­paign to test the city’s 11 mil­lion res­i­dents in five days.

The source of the out­break has been traced to two dock­work­ers, ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal health de­part­ment. It was spread through poor dis­in­fec­tion of a CT scan­ning room shared by COVID pa­tients and those with other con­di­tions at a hos­pi­tal.

The CDC said that the risk of cold- chain food cir­cu­lat­ing in China be­ing con­tam­i­nated by the novel coro­n­avirus is very low, cit­ing re­cent nu­cleic acid test re­sults for sam­ples taken in the sec­tor.

It said that 2.98 mil­lion sam­ples had been tested in 24 provin­cial­level re­gions by Sept 15, in­clud­ing 670,000 taken from cold- chain food or food pack­ag­ing, 1.24 mil­lion from work­ers in the sec­tor and 1.07 mil­lion from the en­vi­ron­ment.

Only 22 sam­ples from cold- chain food or food pack­ag­ing tested pos­i­tive for the virus and the vi­ral load on those sam­ples was very low. In ad­di­tion, the live novel coro­n­avirus had been iso­lated in the pre­vi­ous tests.

“So far, we haven’t found any case among the gen­eral pub­lic of a per­son who was in­fected ei­ther from touch­ing or eat­ing cold- chain food. Re­lated de­part­ments have in­ten­si­fied sur­veil­lance and test­ing of im­ported frozen food,” said the an­nounce­ment.

The CDC said daily con­sump­tion of cold- chain food is safe but also re­minded the pub­lic to main­tain good health habits, and to han­dle raw and cooked food separately.

In the an­nounce­ment, the CDC sug­gested peo­ple who might have close con­tact with cold- chain food, such as em­ploy­ees in lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies, im­prove preven­tion meth­ods, avoid skin con­tact with cold­chain food and reg­u­larly take nu­cleic acid tests.

ZHANG JINGANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A worker walks past nu­cleic acid test­ing lab­o­ra­to­ries in Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince, on Fri­day. Chi­nese biotech com­pany BGI Group up­graded the lab­o­ra­to­ries and boosted their max­i­mum daily test­ing ca­pac­ity from 2,000 to 40,000 sam­ples on Wednes­day.

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