Traces of ‘live’ coronavirus found on packets of frozen cod in China

Potentially infectious traces of the Covid-19 virus have been identified on the packaging of frozen fish in a Chinese supermarket.

While official World Health Organisation advice is that it is "not necessary to disinfect food packaging materials," the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that "contact with outer packaging contaminated by the new coronavirus can cause infection".

The shocking discovery was made as a result of an investigation of a new coronavirus outbreak in the city of Qingdao, in the eastern Shandong province.

Health authorities in the city, which has a population of close to 10 million, have launched a mass testing program after 12 new Covid-19 infections, six of which were asymptomatic, were reported on Saturday 17.

A hospital at the centre of the new outbreak has been sealed off and all doctors and medical staff were being tested.

Few experts believe that the virus can be transmitted via food but Chinese officials claim that an outbreak in Beijing this summer could have come from imported salmon.

China has been one of the only countries that have suggested the deadly virus can be transmitted through frozen food. Officials had said that an outbreak in Beijing this summer could have come from imported salmon.

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The UK government website states: "Covid-19 is a respiratory illness. It is not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging."

Official advice says: "The risk of imported food and packaging from affected countries being contaminated with coronavirus is very unlikely.

"This is because the law requires the exporter to follow the right controls during the packing and shipping process to ensure good hygiene is met."

However, consumers are also advised: "When you are buying loose foods such as fruit, vegetables, or bread in a bakery, try and only touch what you are going to buy."

On the American Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, it’s noted that "it may be possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, such as a food package or dining-ware that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

"However, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads."

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