Chinese health authorities investigating a COVID-19 outbreak have said that they discovered live coronavirus on frozen food packaging, a finding that suggests the virus can survive in cold supply chains.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday said that it had found traces of live COVID-19 on the outer packaging of frozen cod in the eastern city of Qingdao, marking the first time that live coronavirus has been detected on the outside of refrigerated goods.
Researchers were investigating the source of a cluster of cases linked to a hospital in Qingdao.
Genetic traces had previously been found in samples of frozen food, but no living virus had been isolated before.
“It has been confirmed that contact with outer packaging contaminated by the new coronavirus can cause infection,” the agency said in a statement on its Web site, without specifying the origin of the batch of frozen food.
China, which until the Qingdao outbreak had recorded no new local cases in 55 days, has been one of few countries to point to possible transmission through frozen food.
When Beijing had a second outbreak in June after the coronavirus had been largely contained, officials suggested that the new cluster could have come from imported salmon.
China in August increased inspection requirements for imports of frozen products after traces of the coronavirus were found on frozen chicken wings from Brazil.
Researchers have also detected COVID-19 on imported shrimp and other frozen seafood.
The center did not say whether the outbreak in Qingdao was caused by the frozen food packaging.
The outbreak was traced back to two dock workers who are believed to have infected 12 other people at a hospital.
It was not clear whether the dock workers contracted the coronavirus from the packaging of frozen food, but the center warned those handling frozen products not to have direct contact with the goods.
The center said there had been no cases of consumers contracting the coronavirus, but some have begun calling for a temporary ban on frozen food imports.
Out of 2.98 million samples of food packaging, researchers found 22 samples that tested positive, the center said.
SURPRISE GUEST: Media reports identified the visitor as Admiral Michael Studeman, director of the J2, which oversees intelligence at the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command A two-star US Navy admiral overseeing US military intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region has made an unannounced visit to Taiwan, two sources told Reuters on Sunday. The sources, who include a Taiwanese official familiar with the situation, said the official was Rear Admiral Michael Studeman. They were speaking on condition of anonymity. After initially saying on Sunday night that it had no comment about the report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it welcomed the visit of an “unidentified US official,” but declined to give more details because the trip “has not been made public.” Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) yesterday
DEFENSE: The construction of indigenous submarines will be a testament to the nation’s commitment to safeguard its sovereignty, President Tsai Ing-wen said President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday presided over a ceremony to mark the start of construction of the nation’s first indigenous submarine at state-run shipbuilder CSBC Corp’s (台灣國際造船) shipyard in Kaohsiung. “This submarine is an important part of allowing our navy to develop asymmetric warfare and to intimidate and block enemy ships from surrounding Taiwan’s main island,” Tsai said. “With the construction of the submarine to its future commission, we will certainly let the world know our persistence in safeguarding our sovereignty.” Tsai has made boosting the nation’s indigenous defense capacity a central pillar of her defense policy. She recently relaunched the
ESPIONAGE CHARGE: A TAO spokesperson said that the rights of Shih Cheng-ping were ‘fully safeguarded’ during the hearing, which handed him four years in prison China sentenced Shih Cheng-ping (施正屏), a former National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) professor, to four years in jail for espionage, officials said yesterday. The ruling came a month after Shih made a televised “confession” on state media. Shih, who is also a former chief economist for Chinese conglomerate Huaxia Group (華夏集團), was found guilty by a Chinese court on Tuesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) told a news briefing. Shih — who vanished after traveling to China in August 2018 — was among Taiwanese who China Central Television (CCTV) last month showed confessing to spying. CCTV often broadcasts suspects admitting to crimes, even
TIMELINE QUESTIONS: Chen Shih-chung said: ‘If anyone could assure us that we could get the shots in the first quarter of next year, we could set off firecrackers’ Taiwan has secured nearly 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported five new imported infections among travelers from Indonesia and the Philippines. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that Taiwan on Monday signed a procurement contract with a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer and paid a deposit to secure 10 million doses. It was the first contract finalized with a manufacturer and negotiations are under way with three other vaccine makers, Chen said. With the more than 4.6 million doses that can be obtained through the COVAX platform —