The Chinese authorities have reported the first case of detecting live coronavirus samples on frozen food packaging. The virus was discovered during an investigation into the cause of a local outbreak in Qingdao City, Shandong Province, eastern China, according to a statement from the PRC’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday evening.
“The PRC’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found and isolated samples of live coronavirus on a package of imported frozen cod,” the document said on the agency’s website. “This is the first case of detection of live coronavirus samples on frozen food packaging. It has been confirmed that contact with live coronavirus samples on packaging may lead to infection,” the statement said.
The document says that “the detection of live coronavirus on frozen food packaging in Qingdao is the first time it has been confirmed outside the laboratory that under special conditions the coronavirus can persist on food packaging for a long time.” It also notes that “there is a possibility of transmission of the coronavirus through the international cold chain.”
“Under certain conditions, there is a risk of infection for employees working with frozen foods,” the statement said. In this regard, the department urges industry employees to comply with all safety measures, avoid direct contact with products, wear overalls, do not touch the mouth, nose and eyes during work, wash hands and disinfect them immediately after work, and regularly undergo coronavirus testing.
Qingdao authorities at the beginning of the week introduced an emergency response to the current epidemiological situation in the city after identifying three cases of asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus among local residents. On Monday, mass testing of the city’s population for infection was launched. In the first three days, it was possible to successfully complete the testing of residents of five separate districts, and in the remaining two days this program covered almost the entire city. The resident population of Qingdao, excluding visitors and migrants, at the end of 2019 was about 9.4 million people.
The source of the outbreak of coronavirus disease in Qingdao, according to the party secretary of the regional center for disease control and prevention of Ma Lixing province, on October 16, was a computed tomography (CT) room at the local pulmonary hospital due to non-compliance with disinfection standards. Local authorities said that testing of the city’s population is largely complete.