BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s disease control authorities said on Saturday that contact with frozen food packaging contaminated by the new coronavirus could lead to infection.
The conclusion comes as China’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) detected and isolated live coronaviruses on the outer packaging of frozen cod during an attempt to trace the virus in an outbreak reported last week in the city of Qingdao, the agency said on its website. website.
The discovery, a world first, suggests the possibility of the virus being transmitted remotely via frozen goods, he said.
Two dock workers in Qingdao who were initially diagnosed as asymptomatic infections in September brought the virus to a chest hospital during quarantine due to inadequate disinfection and protection, leading to 12 other infections linked to the hospital, authorities said last week.
However, the CDC’s latest statement provides no compelling evidence that the two workers in Qingdao contracted the virus from packaging directly, instead catching the virus from elsewhere and then contaminating the food packaging they were handling, said Jin Dong-Yan, a virologist. professor at the University of Hong Kong.
The CDC said no examples were found of consumers contracting the virus by coming into contact with frozen food and the risk of this happening remained very low.
However, it is recommended that workers handling, processing and selling frozen products should avoid direct skin contact with potentially contaminated products.
Staff should not touch their mouths or noses before removing potentially contaminated work clothes without washing their hands and should carry out regular tests, the agency said.
Prior to the CDC’s latest findings, genetic traces of the virus had been found in some samples taken from frozen food or food packaging, but virus counts were low and no live virus had been isolated, the agency said.
Only live virus can infect people, while samples containing dead virus can also test positive for traces of the virus, said Jin.
Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Tony Munroe; Edited by David Holmes
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