Food and packaging can be contaminated with coronavirus, expert warns

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/19 21:42:55

An employee from a supermarket near Yuquandong market in Beijing which reported a cluster of COVID-19 cases delivers and sells necessary goods to residents in a local locked-down community. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Food and packaging can be contaminated with coronavirus if the nearby environment has been polluted, a food safety expert warned at the regular news briefing in Beijing on Friday, adding that virus pollution could occur in wholesale markets and supermarkets.

The authorities noted that the majority of the samples collected from the aquatic and soybean product areas at Xinfadi market have tested positive for COVID-19.

An expert suggested that people should not eat and should properly dispose of frozen seafood, soy products or other food purchased at the market to avoid coronavirus infection.

The authorities also released results of the epidemiological investigation into 21 of the 25 new confirmed cases that were reported Thursday. It was confirmed that all the 21 cases were related to the Xinfadi market, with eight being employees from a restaurant near the market called Mianmian Judao. Two of the employees regularly purchased products from the market. 

Two members of staff at a barbecue restaurant in Daxing district, who went to the market regularly, were also confirmed to have coronavirus infection.

A nurse from Peking University International Hospital, who was confirmed to be infected on Thursday, had been in close contact with a confirmed case from Beijing's Haidian district on June 14. She had been working before he was identified as a close contact. Beijing then sealed off the hospital soon after the nurse was confirmed as being infected.

Ten epidemiological investigation staff from China's CDC and disease control centers of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Henan and Shandong provinces have arrived in Beijing to support the epidemiological investigation, Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the municipal center for disease prevention and control, said at the press conference.

To support the COVID-19 treatment in the designated Ditan Hospital, the city has deployed 102 medical staff from 18 municipal hospitals, among whom 16 nurses have extensive experience in critical care.

The hospital has expanded its treatment capacity and the number of beds has reached 1,070, according to reports, the authorities announced.

Beijing's commerce authority also revised the guidelines for industries like restaurants, shopping malls, supermarkets, commodity distribution centers, hairdressing and beauty salons, as a further effort to curb the coronavirus, the authority said.

The city holds a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal behavior regarding spreading coronavirus-related rumors. As of Friday, 10 people have been detained for fabricating facts and spreading rumors and 60 related cases have been investigated.

A total of 183 confirmed new cases have been reported in Beijing since June 11. Two patients are critically ill and 11 are severely ill, the authorities said on Friday. Three are children aged less than 13 years old.

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