The General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China announced on April 12 that samples of the packaging of frozen aquatic products imported from aquatic product manufacturers in Myanmar and Thailand with registration numbers YGN/090/MMH/DOF and 1180 respectively tested positive in novel coronavirus nucleic acid tests. In view of this, the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) has immediately launched the contingency plan. Measures such as source tracing, investigation and re-tests of the products of the involved manufacturers have been adopted. Local businesses have been requested to immediately seal the products sourced from the involved manufacturers, and samples have been collected for re-tests. No abnormalities have been found. Meanwhile, IAM has immediately suspended the import applications of the products of the involved manufacturers.
Since July 2020, IAM has collected samples of frozen aquatic products imported from Myanmar and Thailand and their outer and inner packaging for nucleic acid tests for multiple times, and novel coronavirus has not been found. Over the past three months, IAM has also carried out disinfection and sample testing of the products imported from the mentioned countries in compliance with pandemic prevention measures, and only products which have passed the inspections can enter Macao.
IAM has continuously adopted prevention and regulation measures on imported cold-chain food products, and has formulated contingency plans corresponding to the risks. When notified that a product from a registered establishment in a certain country or region has tested positive for novel coronavirus, IAM takes a series of arrangements to suspend the application for import and inspection on the level of import into Macao. When the suspension period expires, IAM also carries out nucleic acid tests on the outer packaging, inner packaging and food products of the registered establishment so as to strictly prevent the transmission of novel coronavirus through cold-chain food products and their outer packaging. On the level of market sales and circulation, IAM evaluates the stock of the products imported from the registered establishment into Macao in the past through the “cold-chain food products tracing system”, notifies businesses to immediately seal the products and sends staff to collect random samples for nucleic acid tests again to further eliminate the risk.
According to the information of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the research of international food safety risk assessment organisations, there is currently no evidence that novel coronavirus pneumonia can be directly transmitted through food. Therefore, the public should always pay attention to their personal, food and environmental hygiene and remember the following:
- Purchase cold-chain food products from licensed and reputable businesses. Consumers must know clearly the source, storage and transportation conditions of the purchased cold-chain food products and ensure that the products satisfy the laws and regulations regarding the import of live and fresh food products to Macao, especially when making purchases on the Internet or through shopping agents;
- When making purchases, consumers must pay attention to their personal health and protection. They should wash their hands frequently, wear their face masks properly and keep social distance. When they choose the food products, they should avoid using their hands to directly touch the products and use tongs or other tools instead. After they have chosen the products, they should use alcoholic hand rub to clean their hands thoroughly;
- After consumers have brought the food products home, they can separate the products and place them in lidded containers or food storage plastic bags, and then place them in the refrigerator. If the food products come with outer packaging, consumers can also use cotton containing 75% alcohol to clean the surface of the packaging and store them separately in the refrigerator;
- When handling food, consumers should handle raw food and cooked food separately, and use two different sets of knives, cutting boards and containers. After handling food, they should thoroughly clean the wash basins, kitchen equipment and countertops. Refrigerators should also be cleaned and disinfected regularly;
- Food must be thoroughly cooked before consumption. Meanwhile, make sure both hands are clean before touching or consuming food.