Three Chinese cities have reported the detection of coronavirus in frozen food imported over four days, raising new concerns Contaminated food shipments could lead to new outbreaks.
On Thursday, health officials in the southeastern city of Shenzhen said a surface sample of frozen chicken wings from Brazil tested positive for the virus. The virus was discovered as part of routine checks being carried out on meat and seafood imports since June, following an outbreak in Beijing, linked to a large wholesale food market.
The Shenzhen Municipal Health Commission said in a statement that it tracked and tested anyone who may have come in contact with potentially contaminated food, and all results were negative.
“All citizens should be careful in buying imported frozen meat products and aquatic products in recent days,”; the commission warned 12 million city dwellers.
The discovery comes a day after the virus was found on the packaging of frozen shrimp imported from Ecuador during a routine inspection at a restaurant in the southeastern city of Wuhu, health officials there announced.
On Monday, health officials in the eastern Chinese port city of Yantai said the coronavirus had been detected in the outer packaging of frozen seafood shipped by a foreign ship. It was not clear where the food was coming from.
Last month, Chinese health officials also reported the presence of coronavirus in the packaging of imported frozen foods in Dalian, Xiamen and Pingxiang cities.
China reported 19 new cases on Thursday, the first time the number of new cases has dropped below 20 since a major shock of 127 cases on July 30, the highest since March 5.
So far, 84,756 cases have been reported by Chinese health officials, including 4,634 deaths.
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Over 20 million cases have been confirmed worldwide, with more than half of them in the US, Brazil and India.
India, a nation of 1.3 billion its dependent economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, reported a record daily increase in new cases on Thursday as the death toll exceeded 47,000, the fourth highest in the world.
Infections increased by 66,999 from the day before to reach a total of nearly 2.4 million to date, said India’s health ministry.
But Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Tuesday that the country’s testing capacity has increased significantly.
“India’s mortality rate is declining and we need to keep working hard to ensure it goes below 1 per cent,” he said.
New Zealand, meanwhile, which has not seen a local broadcast for three months, closed its largest city of 1.7 million on Wednesday after four people were confirmed to have the virus earlier this week. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also imposed measures for social distancing throughout the rest of the country.
Country health officials reported 13 new community infections, all related to the 4 original cases, on Thursday.
“Once again we are reminded of how complex this virus is and how easily it can spread,” Ardern said in a televised address. “Going too far and early is still the best way to act.”
New Zealand has been praised for its large-scale testing system and contact tracking that helped bring the blast under control. Reported 1,239 confirmed cases and 22 deaths since the onset of the pandemic, much lower than many other developed nations.
Reuters contributed to this report.