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China finds live coronavirus in cold-chain food packaging, marking the world first

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Medical staff expect to collect swab samples from residents for COVID-19 test in Qingdao, East China Shandong Province, October 14, 2020. (Xinhua / Li Ziheng)

The China Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Saturday it has detected and isolated live coronavirus in a positive sample from imported frozen cod packaging when the CDC was tracking a new small-scale outbreak. located in Qingdao, Shandong Province of East China.

It was the first time in the world that the new live coronavirus was isolated from the outer packaging of cold-chain food, indicating that exposure to packaging contaminated with the virus could lead to infection, the CDC announced on its official website.

It was the first time it was confirmed that under special cold-chain transport conditions outside the laboratory, the coronavirus could survive in packaging for a long time, signaling that the virus could be imported with the cold-chain food carrier for a while long distances across borders, the statement said.

Under such special conditions, the live virus can infect people who are not effectively protected, mainly including workers in the cold chain sector, who suggested that while preventing imports of infected cases from abroad, China also should pay attention to the risk of virus imported from cold-chain items, the CDC said.

The CDC said the risk of coronavirus contamination in cold-chain food in China is low, citing nucleic acid test results from the cold-chain sector.

As of September 15, 24 provinces and regions in the country have reported 2.98 million test results, including 670,000 from cold-chain food and its packaging samples, 1.24 million samples from related workers, and 1.07 million environmental samples, with only 22 samples from the food and its packaging testing is positive, according to the announcement. The results showed that the nucleic acid load on the virus is low, the CDC said.

He also noted that the risk of infection for the public to be exposed to and eat cold-chain foods is very low, as COVID-19 is not a food-borne disease and has not been found to cause infection through eating.

Also, in response to the risk of infection, Chinese authorities have stepped up the detection, disinfection and other work of imported cold chain food, the CDC said.

He added that the public can buy and eat fresh imported food as normal, while people working in the cold chain sector should follow the relevant guidelines and regulations to avoid infection.

Global Times

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