Why China keeps reverting to questionable theory about its COVID-19 outbreaks
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For months now, Chinese cities have linked new outbreaks of COVID-19 to imported frozen foods, despite scientific evidence suggesting that these products are not likely to spread the disease. Now, mainland trading partners are pushing back China’s protective measures against frozen food contamination, such as over-controlling meat imports.
“The most recent Chinese restrictions on COVID-19 on imported food products are not based on science and threaten to disrupt trade,” the US Department of Agriculture said this week. When Chinese authorities find traces of COVID-19 on packages of food, it can lead to a blockade of that particular exporter or an unofficial boycott of the products, putting revenue at risk.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian dismissed US complaints on Wednesday call “Unfounded and unreasonable”, while also qualifying China’s testing of frozen food imports as “reasonable and justified”. But the United States is not the only one to have complaints.
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Several major food-exporting countries, led by Canada, complained at a meeting of the World Trade Organization this month that China’s control procedures amounted to “unwarranted trade restrictions,” according to Reuters.
China has been studying the possibility of importing COVID-19 with frozen food shipments since June, when an epidemic in Beijing has been traced to a frozen fish stall in a wet market. The suggestion that the coronavirus had found its way into the mainland on packets of fish sparked a boycott Norwegian imports of salmon, although the Chinese authorities have minimized the risk of infection.
Since then, at least 10 cities across China say they have found traces of COVID-19 on the packaging of imported frozen foods. Often the discovery results in a dramatic lockdown of the city in question, as China applies a near zero tolerance approach to outbreaks.
But as China continues to find COVID-19 on its food imports, there are few reports of other countries experiencing the same. And China’s insistence on importing the virus through food helps bolster the theory that the initial outbreak in the Wuhan fish market was also imported.
In August, New Zealand investigation whether an outbreak attributable to a worker in a cold chain logistics company could be linked to imports of frozen products, but authorities have found no proof that the virus had arrived in a frozen container. Meanwhile, Taiwan, which imports some $ 11 billion in agricultural products a year, has gone more than 200 days without a single case of COVID-19.
Laboratory tests have shown that the coronavirus can survive at least 14 days at subzero temperatures – so it is possible that traces of the virus will survive trips of several weeks in frozen food containers. But epidemiologists say the risk of an outbreak of frozen food packaging is low because the virus must enter a person’s body to infect it, so proper handwashing practices should suffice. ‘avoid.
But China goes even further; it introduced new disinfection protocols for frozen food shipments last week. the orientation, published by the National Health Commission, calls for frozen food packaging and the vehicles that transport it to be disinfected before unloading goods.
Meanwhile, Chinese customs officials continue to test frozen food shipments.
Under the center of Beijing regulations, if a single positive coronavirus result is found on an exporter’s products, authorities can suspend shipments of their goods for a week. If an exporter obtains three positive tests, its shipments can be suspended for a month. But exporting countries say Chinese authorities never share evidence of contamination, say Reuters.
More recently, the city of Jinan in eastern China claimed to have found samples of COVID-19 on beef imports from New Zealand, Bolivia and Brazil. Days later, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern challenged the report and said her government had “been advised“That the Chinese authorities had simply found traces of COVID-19 on imports of Argentinian meat at the same cold storage facility as the imports of Kiwi.
“It’s extremely important for New Zealand. We are confident that our products are not and are not exported with signs of COVID on them given our status as being essentially COVID free ”, Ardern said. New Zealand reported three new cases of COVID on Friday in the past 24 hours.
Authorities in Jinan said they tested 7,500 people who may have come in contact with the contaminated imports and found no positive cases.
The findings reported by China on COVID-19 on frozen food imports, however, fueled the theory that the initial outbreak in Wuhan – generally considered the zero point of the COVID-19 pandemic – was also imported via frozen foods.
The majority of Wuhan’s first coronavirus patients were found in the Huanan Seafood market and, according to the Chinese nationalist tabloid Global Times, “Patients with COVID-19 were concentrated among the frozen seafood vendors at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan.”
Beijing has long argued that while it was the first country to document an outbreak of the new SARS-COV 2 virus, COVID-19, it does not mean that the virus necessarily originated there. Granted, some reports have found evidence that COVID-19 was circulating outside of China before November of last year, when China claims to have found its first case of the coronavirus.
This week again, the National Cancer Institute in Milan published a report who discovered that COVID-19 was likely circulating in Italy as early as September of last year.
How the virus first appeared in Italy is still unknown. Details regarding the outbreak in Wuhan are still largely unverified. The World Health Organization sent a team to China in February to investigate the early spread of the virus, but the probe did not identify the origin of the virus due to reported concessions WHO officials went to Beijing.
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