China's health authority has confirmed the detection and isolation of living novel coronavirus on the outer packaging of imported frozen marine fish in the port city of Qingdao.
It is for the first time in the world that living novel coronavirus has been isolated from the outer packaging of cold-chain food, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement on Saturday.
The authorities in Qingdao, where a new cluster of COVID-19 cases were reported recently, conducted tests on all of its about 11 million population. No new clusters of cases were found after the tests, the local authorities said.
In July, China suspended imports of frozen shrimp after the deadly virus was found on packages and the inner wall of a container.
The CDC said it detected and isolated the living virus on the outer packaging of imported frozen cod in Qingdao.
The finding was made during an investigation to trace the source of recent infections reported in the city. It has proved that contact with packaging contaminated by living novel coronavirus could lead to infection, state-run Xinhua news agency reported, quoting the CDC statement.
The statement, however, did not mention the country from where the package was imported.
The agency said the risk of cold-chain food circulating in China's market being contaminated by the novel coronavirus is very low, citing recent nucleic acid test results for samples taken from the business.
A total of 2.98 million samples had been tested across the country's 24 provincial-level regions by September 15, including 670,000 taken from cold-chain food or food packaging, 1.24 million from working staff and 1.07 million from the environment.
Only 22 samples from cold-chain food or food packaging tested positive for the virus, the CDC said.
Meanwhile, the National Health Commission on Sunday said 13 confirmed COVID-19 cases, all arriving from outside the mainland, were reported on Saturday. There was no new locally transmitted COVID-19 case, it said.
Of the imported cases, five were reported in Shanghai, four in Guangdong, two in Shaanxi and one each in Tianjin and Sichuan.
As of Saturday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland reached 85,672.
Altogether 80,786 patients have been discharged after recovery, while the death count stood at 4,634, the Commission said.