Coronavirus: China reports more positive tests on imported frozen food

Liu Zhen
·3-min read

The coronavirus has been detected on imported frozen food and packaging in a number of cities across China in the last few days, raising concern about new Covid-19 outbreaks in the country.

With the world engulfed in a second wave of infections, China, the world’s top buyer of frozen beef and shrimp, has ramped up testing of frozen food.

The latest cases were reported in Jinan and in Sishui county in Shandong province in the country’s east, as well as in Xian in Shaanxi province in the northwest.

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Other positive results were reported earlier in Wuhan, Hubei province; Zhengzhou in Henan province; Quanzhou in southeastern Fujian province; and Lanzhou in the northwestern province of Gansu.

Jinan’s health commission said on Sunday that more than 7,500 people who might have had contact with contaminated products and other related personnel had tested negative for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

China has zeroed in on frozen food imports as it tries to keep a lid on Covid-19

The virus was detected on some beef and tripe, and on packaging for these products, which were imported from Brazil, New Zealand and Bolivia and entered China through Yangshan Port in Shanghai, the commission said. Testing an additional 3,535 products and their packaging showed all were virus free.

Jinan officials had locked down and disinfected the affected frozen food facilities, locked away remaining goods, tracked the whereabouts of the products that were already sold and quarantined the personnel involved, the commission said.

More frequent testing of high-risk groups of people and stricter epidemic control measures, especially related to frozen food, would be implemented.

Authorities in Xian also reported on Sunday that packaging for pork from Argentina tested positive for the coronavirus. In August, tests in the city on the packaging of Ecuador-produced prawns – imported via Tianjin and transported through Jinan, were positive.

China to disinfect frozen food imports to curb coronavirus spread

On Friday, Wuhan, where the pandemic first broke out, reported positive virus tests on packaging of Brazilian beef, imported in August through the port of Qingdao in Shandong.

Zhengzhou authorities also found the virus on Argentinian pork that was imported through Qingdao. Contaminated shrimps in Lanzhou and unspecified frozen food in Quanzhou were both imported through the port of Tianjin, which announced last week an emergency “state of war” on the epidemic after a cold storage worker and one of his close contacts were confirmed as new locally originating Covid-19 cases. Shanghai on Monday also reported a cargo handler at the city’s Pudong airport had tested positive.

Although the World Health Organization has said the risk of coronavirus transmission from frozen food is low, Chinese health authorities say an outbreak in Beijing in June was due to the processing of imported salmon, and a number of cases among port workers in Qingdao last month were linked to the packaging of imported frozen cod.

Wider testing and disinfection of the cold chain products are now required in China.

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