Chinese state media say parcels mailed from overseas may have spread the coronavirus in Beijing and elsewhere, despite doubts among overseas health experts that the virus can be transmitted via packaging
The State Post Bureau said it has ordered stronger measures to ventilate and disinfect sites where items mailed from overseas are handled. Postal workers must wear protective equipment, receive booster shots and undergo regular testing, it said on its website. International packages must be isolated, cleaned and held for a waiting period to ensure they are free from the virus, it said.
The Communist Party newspaper Global Times cited the Beijing Center for Disease Control and virologists as linking recent infections to packages from abroad. It said Tuesday that investigators found people newly infected had picked up packages mailed from Canada and the U.S.
China has locked down parts of Beijing’s Haidian district following the detection of three cases, just weeks before the capital is to host the Winter Olympic Games. Another person in the southern technology hub of Shenzhen who tested positive for omicron handled packages sent from North America, the newspaper said.
Beijing Games organizers announced Monday that only “selected” spectators will be permitted at the events, which officially open Feb. 4. Beijing had already announced that no fans from outside the country will be permitted and has not offered tickets to the general public.
China has largely avoided major virus outbreaks with lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions, although it continues to fight surges in several cities, including the port of Tianjin, about an hour from Beijing.
One city that has endured weeks of lockdown under China’s “zero-COVID” policy appears to have received some relief. Falling numbers of cases in Xi’an, a city of 13 million famed as the home of the Terracotta Warrior statue army, have prompted authorities to gradually allow people to leave their homes and return to work.
Just one additional case was reported in the city among China’s 127 new domestically transmitted cases announced Tuesday.