China is stepping up virus testing on imported food packaging | Instant News


China is stepping up virus checks on imported food packaging as colder weather brings a new wave of coronavirus infections in several overseas countries, Chinese officials said Wednesday.

The packaging was “not exempt” from carrying the virus, deputy director of the National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment Li Ning told reporters.

While the coronavirus positivity rate for tests on the pack was only 0.48 per 10,000, that proportion increases with the number of tests performed, Li said.

He said the virus was “to some extent” transmissible to humans from packaging, although Li or other officials at Wednesday’s press conference did not mention such a confirmed case.

Chinese packaging testing has generated some controversy, with frozen food exporters questioning the science behind it and whether it is a barrier to unfair trade. China has defended the practice as an additional measure to prevent the spread of the virus.

Through its mask mandate, mass testing, lockdown and case tracking, China has largely eliminated cases of local transmission, causing it to pay extra attention to the threat of infection from abroad. China’s National Health Administration on Wednesday reported five new cases, all imported, bringing China’s total to 86,469, including 4,634 deaths.

Stopping the spread of the virus is “like a war,” demands swift and decisive action, said Wu Zunyou, CDC Head of Epidemiology.

“Victory only comes after the entire nation is united in its efforts. On this front, technical strategy, strong leadership and coordinated action all play an important role, ”said Wu.

The coronavirus is known to be more stable in cooler and dryer conditions, and disinfecting packaging at freezing temperatures creates a “special challenge,” said Zhang Liubo, the Center for Disease Control’s chief disinfection officer.

Even when disinfection is successful and the virus is no longer contagious, traces of the virus can remain on the packaging, resulting in a positive result, Zhang said.

However, “to date, we have not encountered any infections caused by direct consumption of these cold chain products,” said Zhang.

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