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China advises to be cautious while opening foreign mail

FILE PHOTO: A delivery driver sorts parcels as he sits in the trunk of his electric tricycle following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing, China, August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

After authorities claimed the first incidence of the Omicron coronavirus virus strain detected in Beijing could have arrived via a box from Canada, China is recommending citizens to wear masks and gloves when opening mail, especially from abroad.

The news: Authorities have promised to improve the disinfection of international mail and have mandated that all postal workers handling it be completely vaccinated.

  • The precautions come less than three weeks before the Winter Olympic Games begin in the capital, and as numerous towns work to contain new coronavirus outbreaks.

What they’re saying: In a late Monday social media post, state broadcaster CCTV said, “Minimize purchases of overseas items or receiving mail from abroad.”

  • “Make careful to use masks and gloves during face-to-face handovers, and try to open the item outside.”
  • The person afflicted with the Omicron variety opened a shipment from Canada that had been routed through the United States and Hong Kong, according to health officials, and transmission through the package “could not be ruled out.”
  • According to CCTV, the case highlighted the significance of “personal defence.”

What’s going on: The National Health Commission offered comments on how to handle deliveries, not just those from abroad, on its official WeChat account, which were retweeted by authorities in Shanghai and Nanjing.

  • Even though the World Health Organization has downplayed the risk, China has been an outlier in asserting that COVID-19 can be transmitted via cold-chain imports such as frozen meat and fish, and has been pushing a narrative via state media that the virus existed abroad before it was discovered in late 2019 in the central city of Wuhan.
  • As per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of coronavirus infections from contact with contaminated surfaces or items is low.
  • China has been dealing with a recurrence of cases in various locations in recent weeks, some of which are of the highly transmissible Omicron variety. It reported 127 new local cases with confirmed symptoms on Tuesday.
  • International mail must be disinfected after arriving in China, according to the State Post Bureau, and personnel who process and deliver international mail must have undergone COVID-19 immunizations and a booster.
  • With labels affixed on parcels, China Post has also reminded receivers of overseas mail to disinfect the contents “in a timely manner”.
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