Guangdong warns residents of sporadic cases as COVID-19 risks loom

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/16 21:09:01

Medical staff evacuate about 50 residents of the Salvation Army Lung Hang Residence for Senior Citizens in Sha Tin, Hong Kong on Friday, after a cook and a cleaning staff there tested positive for the virus. Photo: cnsphoto

As South China's Guangdong Province sees a resurgence of locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, the provincial health commission warned local residents of sporadic cases at a press conference on Sunday. 

The Health Commission of Guangdong Province pointed out that despite the still-severe COVID-19 situation, demand for overseas economic and trade exchanges has increased greatly, with inbound flights becoming more frequent, which poses a great threat to Guangdong, a major port of China. 

Local prevention and control measures still face grave and complicated challenges amid the pandemic that has spread across the world, the authority noted.

Risks of imported cases and domestic medium- and high-risk areas should not be overlooked, the provincial health commission stressed. It cited examples of foreign crew from cargo ships docking at Guangdong who tested positive, and reiterated domestic resurgences caused by group gatherings. 

The authority said weak links in closed-loop management need to be strengthened, with strict tracking and health status checks applied to cross-border truck drivers, after a Hong Kong truck driver tested positive in Shenzhen, Guangdong in late July. 

Concerns over the safety of frozen food products have risen sharply, as one locally transmitted case and five asymptomatic cases were reported in Shenzhen on Friday, all of which related to a national chain grocery store called Freshippo. 

Shenzhen detected novel coronavirus on frozen chicken wings from Brazil on Thursday. 

"The priority for Guangdong is detecting the virus' origin," Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, told the Global Times on Sunday. "Whether the coronavirus comes from cold-chain supplies is the key to contain the spread of the virus, as in low temperatures it can survive longer than usual." 

Wang also noted that since the new confirmed case was found in a national chain store that distributes and sells products in some areas across the country, it is even more vital to detect the origin as fast as possible, and properly deal with the frozen food products in stock.

In response to the risks of overseas cold-chain supplies carrying the virus, Guangzhou suspended all imports of frozen meat and seafood products from COVID-19 stricken areas, and it will carry out nucleic acid tests immediately to all related personnel. Routine weekly checks will follow   afterward, the local government announced on Sunday. 

All 36 Freshippo chain stores and 12 related warehouses and processing companies in Guangdong have been inspected, including staff, products and the environment. However, no source had been detected as of Thursday evening, Chinese media outlet Caixin reported on Sunday.

Global Times

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