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Chinese campuses, food vendors escalate measures against risk brought by frozen

作者:admin 2020-11-19

Chinese campuses, food vendors escalate measures against risk brought by frozen

A worker arranges boxes of imported frozen meat at a cold storage at Dalian port in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province, April 8, 2020. (Xinhua/Yao Jianfeng)

As coronavirus has been detected on increasing amounts of imported cold-chain food, Chinese universities have ordered students to stay on campus and avoid inter-city travel, while importers face stricter procedures before putting imported food on shelves - all part of strengthened epidemic control methods.

Observers noted those measures are "necessary, reasonable" and "responsible for the public" as contaminated food could transmit the virus to people, in response to Western opposition to strict measures.

A report by Reuters, citing the US Department of
Agriculture, questioned China's move of imposing tests on imported food, claiming the intensified tests represent an "unjustified trade restriction," while ignoring the transmission risks that have been proven in previous cases. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday that such accusation was groundless. The testing is a case of giving life top priority and safeguarding the health of people, which is totally necessary, reasonable and justified, he said.

Bai Ming, deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce's International Market Research Institute, told the Global Times that as overseas epidemics continue to wreak havoc, China has no options but to strengthen customs checks to protect the health of its residents and prevent the virus from rebounding in the country. 

"China welcomes imported food but only safe products. Distorting China's justified actions reflects the double standards some foreign countries have toward China," the Chinese expert said. 

A seafood industry insider told the Global Times on Wednesday that testing of packages will increase shipping times and costs for Chinese importers, but most of the companies take the initiative to do so because a nucleic acid report is a prerequisite for sales. 

"This is a guarantee for the health of Chinese people. We would like to carry out tests on imported food in a strict manner as required. If no thorough examination of imported food is made, more in the food industry could be victims," a Shanghai-based salmon importer surnamed Li told the Global Times. 

Li said imports of salmon have fallen this year as customers' demand went down amid the pandemic. The reduction was not because of tests on seafood, which only became strict recently.

Yang Zhanqiu, a Wuhan-based virologist, told the Global Times that China's nucleic acid tests of imported cold-chain food are an "important" and "responsible" action to protect people's lives "when we cannot rule out the possibility that imported food was the real source of infections in the epidemic in Wuhan, Beijing and Dalian."

"Risks from imported cases are clear to all. Some of the imported cases are not carried by people but come in through the logistics system. China cannot shut the door, but it can prevent risk with preparedness plans," Zhang Wenhong, a Shanghai-based expert, said. 

After the recent spate of detections of live coronavirus associated with cold-chain foods, teachers and students across the country told the Global Times on Wednesday that schools have escalated measures to prevent outbreaks.

University students in North China's Tianjin Municipality received a notice to stay in the city except in case of emergency. A student at Nankai University said the university has reinstated the procedures of taking temperatures and checking the health codes of anyone entering the campus. 

Previously, the city entered war time mode after detecting a new COVID-19 case in the frozen-food industry. 

Students in Beijing and Shanghai confirmed that they have been asked to avoid inter-city travel. A teacher in a high school in Shanghai told the Global Times that the school has been requiring each person entering the school to be registered with detailed information for tracking purposes, and to wear a mask for any inter-school interactions. The moves came since last week, when many cities reported they had detected live coronavirus on imported cold-chain food. 

A number of other cities also issued notices on tightening epidemic control, asking all staff and students not to leave the cities where they reside. 

Newspaper headline: Tighter epidemic measures amid imported cases

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