China zero-Covid: Xiamen swabs freshly caught seafood for coronavirus

Hong Kong

The Chinese language coastal metropolis of Xiamen is testing freshly caught fish, crabs and even shrimp for Covid-19 because it goes all out to comprise a spiraling outbreak – a coverage drawing ridicule on-line and criticism from consultants who say it’s a “waste of assets.”

This week, videos of hazmat-suited well being staff sticking cotton swabs into the mouths of fish and crabs went viral on Chinese language social media, sparking complaints that the nation’s zero-Covid coverage had gone too far.

Because the pandemic, China has relied on mass testing, in depth quarantines and snap lockdowns to stamp out any resurgence of the coronavirus. However the extremely infectious Omicron variant has posed a problem to China’s most stringent anti-Covid measures.

In Xiamen’s Jimei district, authorities issued a discover final month ordering each “fishermen and their catch” to be examined for Covid.

It mentioned since June, “unlawful buying and selling and unlawful contact” between fishermen within the Fujian province and abroad vessels had unfold Covid to China, “inflicting nice social hurt.”

Xiamen reported 10 Covid instances Friday, bringing the entire quantity within the newest outbreak to 65. The port metropolis rolled out three rounds of mass testing for its 5 million residents, ranging from Wednesday.

China zero-Covid: Xiamen swabs freshly caught seafood for coronavirus, a state-run information web site in Fujian, reported that the testing requirement for each fishermen and their catch was applied “to strengthen the maritime epidemic protection line and strictly forestall the import of the epidemic from the ocean.”

Jin Dongyan, a professor at Hong Kong College’s College of Biomedical Sciences, advised CNN the coverage was a “waste of assets.”

“They need to concentrate on the folks quite than the fish,” he mentioned.

In keeping with Jin, testing the catch is “fully ineffective” as a result of the possibilities of the fish testing constructive and spreading the virus to people was “very low.”

“It’s 100 or 1,000 instances extra attainable that these fishermen acquired contaminated by different fishermen. There’s no proof that the fish can transmit the virus,” he mentioned.

Chinese language officers have beforehand blamed the nation’s Covid-19 outbreaks on quite a lot of imports, together with frozen seafood, suggesting that individuals may have turn into sick after dealing with contaminated packaging.

Nevertheless, since 2020 the World Well being Group has maintained that there isn’t a proof folks can catch Covid from meals or meals packaging. And in January 2022, the Centre for Animal Well being and Welfare on the Metropolis College of Hong Kong mentioned the chance of getting Covid from animals was “negligible.”

Beforehand, studies have emerged of seafood, livestock, fruit and even crops being examined for Covid in China. Authorities have additionally applied rigorous measures testing the packaging of meals imports for traces of the virus, even suspending imports from corporations that check constructive and inflicting delays and clogged ports.

Xiamen’s testing coverage comes as China takes in depth steps to keep up its zero-Covid stance, together with locking down an Ikea department in Shanghai this week after an in depth contact of a Covid-19 case was traced to the placement, and stranding greater than 80,000 vacationers on the resort island of Hainan final week to stem an outbreak.

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