Update: Mail from Canada suspected of spreading COVID-19 with more cases reported in Beijing ahead of the Winter Olympic Games
Published: Jan 18, 2022 09:16 PM
Beijing Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

Mail from Canada is suspected of spreading COVID-19 in Beijing, as two more Omicron cases have been detected as of Tuesday. The local health authorities confirmed one infection of Omicron variant on Monday and another on Tuesday, both in the city's Haidian district.

According to Beijing Municipal Health Commission on Tuesday, another case of Delta variant infection was found in Chaoyang district, making the total confirmed local cases spotted in the city to 4 within 3 days. Both Omicron and Delta variants were found in this flareup in the capital city ahead of the Winter Olympic Games. 

As media reported, the first Omicron patient confirmed locally, found in Beijing on January 15, contracted the virus after opening an international document from Canada. This led the authorities to recommend people reduce purchasing overseas commodities and take precautionary measures when receiving mail or goods from overseas.

Experts noted that the concentration and survival time of the virus carried by mail from Canada during the tests exceeded expectations. 

This is different from what we previously knew, and the concentration of coronavirus is very low on consignments and the activity of the virus generally decreases significantly after two or three days in the environment, said Jiang Chu, head of the Disease Control and Prevention Center in Haidian district.

The whole mailing process took up to eight days and, after that time, the virus can still cause surface-to-human infection. This has given us a new understanding of the coronavirus and sounds an alarm to guard against it, said Jiang.

On Tuesday, the inside pages of a document found in a logistics building near the Capital International Airport in Beijing's Shunyi district tested positive for COVID-19, and the document belongs to the same batch of international consignments contacted by the first local confirmed case in Haidian.

After it was discovered that the inside pages of a document tested positive, the entire building was temporarily closed for further testing. No one can enter the building without a negative nucleic acid test certificate on Tuesday.

Beijing authorities said at a press conference on Tuesday that it is necessary to strictly prevent the importation of COVID-19 cases from overseas through consignment, and epidemic-prevention measures will be taken for mail and deliveries entering Beijing from both domestic and international epidemic-affected areas.

At the same time, local government officials also said at the same conference on Tuesday that people entering Beijing should take nucleic acid tests within 72 hours and report to their places of residence. The local government will comprehensively screen key-risk personnel and not miss a single risk of the virus spreading.

Local health officials said that three cases confirmed from January 15 to 18 in the Haidian district belong to the same chain of transmission of Omicron. However, the source of the case testing positive for the Delta variant in Chaoyang district on Tuesday afternoon has not yet been confirmed, and the epidemiological investigation is being accelerated.

So far, communities in Beijing where the three local confirmed cases of Omicron and the one Delta variant case have been temporarily sealed off and nucleic acid tests have been carried out for all residents.