A woman looks at a model of the COVID-19 coronavirus at the second World Health Expo in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province, where the coronavirus was first detected in December 2019.(AFP)
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China halts imports from Indian firm after frozen seafood packages test Covid-19 positive

The frozen cuttlefish packages imported from a Kolkata-based company tested positive for the coronavirus, the General Administration of Customs of China said in a statement.
By Sutirtho Patranobis , edited by Vinod Janardhanan | Hindustan Times, Beijing
UPDATED ON NOV 13, 2020 01:52 PM IST

China has suspended importing seafood from an Indian company after three frozen product packages tested positive for Coronavirus, local customs authorities said on Friday.

The frozen cuttlefish packages imported from a Kolkata-based company tested positive for the coronavirus, the General Administration of Customs of China said in a statement.

The statement, quoted by Chinese state media, said as per law, China has suspended all imports from the company for a week.

The suspension of import is likely to be followed by testing of all workers involved in the import of this particular batch of cuttlefish.

State media reports said that it wasn’t the first time that frozen food imported from India had tested positive for Coronavirus in China.

Earlier this month, packages of frozen hairtail fish tested positive in Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province in north China.

According to a report in national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), a sample of frozen hairtail imported through the port of Tianjin to Taiyuan tested positive.

“Taiyuan City immediately launched an emergency plan for the prevention and control of cold chain food epidemics, and seized all frozen hairtails involved in this batch,” the report said.

Local authorities had subsequently launched nucleic acid testing and centralised quarantine for the workers involved, the report said, adding results of all nucleic acid tests were negative.

China imports aquatic products from 88 countries including 23 from Asia and 26 from Europe.

Till now, frozen aquatic products from at least six countries - India, Indonesia, Russia, the Netherlands, Norway, and Ecuador – have tested positive for the coronavirus.

On Friday, official news agency Xinhua reported that authorities in Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei province, found that three frozen beef samples had tested positive for Covid-19, local health authorities said on Friday.

The batch of products dispersed in 1,006 boxes, weighing 27 tonnes, were imported from Brazil to customs in the east Chinese city of Qingdao on August 7. They arrived in a warehouse in Wuhan on August 17 and have not entered the market.

“The local authorities have sealed the products, quarantined and conducted tests on relevant personnel and disinfected the area,” the Xinhua report said.

It is estimated over 25 novel coronavirus cases have been detected in imported food cold chains since the first case was found in July, mostly from major frozen food exporting countries including Ecuador, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil and Norway.

Tianjin, a city neighbouring Beijing and North China’s Hebei, shut down a wholesale market after finding Covid-19 on its imported cold-chain products for two consecutive days.

“A Tianjin worker in the cold chain industry was confirmed to have contracted Covid-19 this week. Two Chinese cities have been involved in Tianjin’s cases as some batches of frozen goods sold in these cities were delivered from Tianjin,” a state media report said.

By the end of Thursday, a total of 3,662 imported Covid-19 cases had been reported on the mainland. Among them, 3,308 had been discharged from hospitals following recovery, and 354 remained hospitalised. No deaths had been reported among imported cases.

Confirmed cases on the mainland reached 86,307 by Thursday, while deaths stand at 4,634, according to the national health commission’s daily bulletin on Friday.

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