GENEVA (REUTERS) - The World Health Organization on Thursday (Aug 13) downplayed the danger of the coronavirus latching on to food packaging and urged people not to be afraid of the virus entering the food chain.
"People should not fear food, food packaging or delivery of food," WHO head of emergencies programme Mike Ryan told a briefing.
"There is no evidence the food chain is participating in transmission of this virus."
His comments come after New Zealand reported its first Covid-19 cases in more than three months on Wednesday (Aug 12), prompting a swift reimposition of movement restrictions.
Health officials raised the possibility that the virus had arrived in New Zealand via freight, given one of the infected people works at a cool store that takes imported frozen goods from overseas.
China said on Thursday a sample of frozen chicken wings imported into Shenzhen from Brazil had tested positive for the virus.
The discovery by local disease control centres was part of routine screenings of meat and seafood imports that have been carried out since June, when a new outbreak in Beijing was linked to the city's Xinfadi wholesale food centre.
Earlier this week, traces of the virus were found in China on the packaging of frozen shrimp from Ecuador and on the outer packaging of imported frozen seafood that arrived at Yantai port from Dalian in north-east China.
Chinese customs officers first found the virus in packaging from Ecuador on July 10. It marked the first positive results from 227,934 samples that had been taken from imported foods, their packaging, and the environment.