It’s been over six months since COVID-19 cases were first reported but experts are still in the process of understanding the novel coronavirus. While it is believed to spread mainly from person to person through droplets and direct contact, the virus can also contaminate pets and objects. The amount of time the virus can live on surfaces varies depending on the environment, but at least two instances show that it can last long enough to survive shipments of frozen imported goods.
Authorities in the Chinese port city Yantai recently found the novel coronavirus on the outer packaging of imported frozen seafood, which arrived from the north-eastern port city of Dailan, about 186km away.
The Yantai government said that the seafood came from an imported shipment that entered the country in a foreign vessel through Dalian. They were then sent to the Yantai port for three businesses in the city. The Yantai government did not mention the shipment’s place of origin, Reuters reported.
Some of the seafood with contaminated packaging had been processed for export, while the rest were kept in storage and have not entered the market.
Early COVID-19 cases were linked to a wholesale seafood market in Wuhan, China.
The shipment in Yantai was not the first time the coronavirus was detected on food. In July, the packaging of frozen shrimp imported from Ecuador to Dalian were found with coronavirus. Dalian was the site of China’s latest COVID-19 cluster in July, which started with a 58-year-old man who worked for a seafood processing company. Liaoning Province, where Dalian City is located, had 203 COVID-19 cases as of press time.
In June, the virus was also detected in seafood, beef, and lamb vendors in Beijing’s Xinfadi wholesale food market.
In light of recent outbreaks in the food industry, local governments in China have been more cautious in their monitoring of frozen food processes.
Following the most recent discovery, the Yantai government reminded imported food processing companies to establish measures to prevent coronavirus contamination, the South China Morning Post reported.
Workers who were in close contact with the frozen seafood shipped to Yantai were placed under quarantine and have tested negative for COVID-19.
At the peak of the outbreak, China was reporting thousands of new infections daily but this has dramatically decreased. On Tuesday, Aug. 11, the country only reported 25 new coronavirus cases. There have been a total of 88,958 COVID-19 cases and 4,693 deaths in China as of press time.
Find Miran on Instagram.