China takes strict anti-COVID-19 measures for international mail
Published: Mar 20, 2022 01:06 PM
A worker packs kumquats for express delivery in Rong'an County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Dec. 5, 2021.Photo:Xinhua

A worker packs kumquats for express delivery in Rong'an County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Dec. 5, 2021.Photo:Xinhua

China's delivery companies have been ordered to disinfect international mail upon arrival and hold items for about seven days before delivery, as measures are tightened to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from overseas, according to authorities and industry practitioners.

The State Post Bureau said that it will step up inspection of mail processing sites, and it urged couriers to follow basic health protection requirements for employees, including wearing masks, washing hands frequently, checking temperatures and discouraging large gatherings.

Relevant authorities are required to strengthen nucleic acid testing for all couriers, in a bid to enhance public confidence in the country's express delivery industry.

The move came as so far in March, more than 29,000 cases of COVID-19 infections were reported across China, affecting 28 provincial-level regions, including Northeast China's Jilin Province, Shanghai and South China's Guangdong Province, according to a Sunday notice issued by the State Council, China's cabinet.

Given the rapid spread of the epidemic, many delivery companies previously made plans to deal with international packages. For instance, on Thursday, Chinese delivery service company SF Express released a notice on its website, noting that there will be a delay of approximately six days for international parcels in accordance with anti-COVID-19 policies.

A deliveryman working for ZTO Express in Chaoyang district of Beijing told the Global Times on Sunday that the company has implemented separate management for domestic and international mail. Goods from overseas, following at least three rounds of disinfection, will be held for about one week before final dispatch to recipients. 

In January, several cases uncovered in Beijing, as well as Zhuhai and Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province, were suspected of being linked to contaminated mail from overseas.

In order to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 from overseas, many provinces have moved to tighten regulations for overseas mail.

The Beijing Municipal Postal Administration requires full disinfection of international mail every four hours at the processing sites, while postal workers who were exposed to international mail are required to undergo two nucleic acid tests every seven days.

According to a notice released by the Qingdao Municipal Postal Administration in East China's Shandong Province, local delivery companies will disinfect the outside packaging or mailbags of international mail and leave them for 24 hours at processing sites. The parcels will be delivered after being held for at least 10 days, according to local media.

A purchasing agent for overseas cosmetics surnamed Cen in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong, told the Global Times on Sunday that fewer customers have been buying international goods since January, as Chinese postal officials also suggested that residents reduce orders from countries and regions with a high risk of COVID-19. 

"I have 'apologized' several times to customers for delivery delays, as the domestic post companies are carrying out strict inspections of international mail to ensure the safe dispatch," Cen said.

Experts noted that given the new wave of the Omicron variant, contactless delivery is encouraged and smart express delivery boxes could also be used, suggesting the recipients open mail outdoors, disinfect the inside of the mail package, and sanitize and wash their hands carefully.

Global Times