China: COVID-19 found living on cold chain food packaging
COVID-19 has been found living on the outside of packaging, which could present a risk to cold chain workers, an investigation found on Saturday.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the coronavirus was detected and isolated from positive samples of imported frozen cod carried by workers in Qingdao, China.
The CDC said this was the first confirmed instance of the virus living on packaging outside the laboratory and that the contaminated packaging can cause infection.
It also confirms that it can survive on the outer packaging of items for a long time under specific conditions such as cold chain transportation.
It is also suggested that the novel coronavirus uses cold chain items as carriers, which could present a risk to cold chain workers who import and export goods across borders.
The CDC suggested regulators should consider monitoring cold chain items in a similar way to how countries have closely regulated the travel of persons.
However, despite the findings, the CDC maintains the risk of the virus circulating through countries’ cold chains and the chance of infection for the general public from contact with or eating cold chain food is “very low”.
The report said China’s 24 provinces submitted 298 million copies of the test results — 67 million tests on cold chain and food packaging, 124 million tests on employees and 107 million on environmental tests — for the investigation.
Only 22 articles of food and packaging contained the nucleic acid of the novel coronavirus.
The CDC said the main route of transmission of COVID-19 is still through respiratory droplets and close contact.
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