China suspects COVID-19 might arrive in overseas mail

Authorities vowed to
step up disinfection of overseas mail and are insisting postal staff handling
it are fully vaccinated.

The precautions come
less than three weeks before the capital opens the Winter Olympic Games and as
several cities work to stamp out new outbreaks of coronavirus infections.

purchases of overseas goods or receiving mail from abroad,” state
broadcaster CCTV said late on Monday in a social media post.

“Be sure to
protect yourself during face-to-face handovers and wear masks and gloves; try
to open the package outdoors.”

Health officials said
the person found infected with the omicron variant opened a package from Canada
that had been routed through the United States and Hong Kong and transmission
via the package “could not be ruled out”.

The case highlighted
the importance of “personal defence”, CCTV said.

Similar suggestions
on how to handle parcels, not just those from overseas, were made by the
National Health Commission on its official WeChat account and reposted by
authorities in the cities of Shanghai and Nanjing.

China has been an
outlier in asserting that COVID-19 can be transmitted via cold-chain imports
such as frozen meat and fish, even though the World Health Organization has
played down the risk, and has been pushing a narrative via state media that the
virus existed abroad before it was discovered in late 2019 in the central city
of Wuhan.

In recent weeks,
China has been battling a resurgence in cases in several cities, some of them
of the highly transmissible omicron variant. On Tuesday, it reported 127 new
local cases with confirmed symptoms.

See also  Can omicron cause long COVID?

The State Post Bureau
issued a notice on Monday stating that international mail must be disinfected
after reaching China, and staffers who process and deliver international mail
must have received COVID-19 vaccinations and a booster.

China Post has also
been reminding recipients of overseas mail to disinfect the contents “in a
timely manner” with stickers pasted on parcels.

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