Chinese authorities claimed a recent locally transmitted case of the Omicron variant in Beijing came from an international package sent from Canada.
On Monday, the Beijing Municipal Health Commission said the person who tested positive with the Omicron variant had not left Beijing two weeks before he tested positive but had received a package on January 11.
Authorities have since quarantined the patient’s family, the courier, and more than 60 others as close contacts and tested more than 16,000 people in the patient’s home district of Haidian.
Authorities also urged residents in the Chinese capital to limit international purchases.
“Omicron virus transmits fast, please pay attention, avoid buying stuff from overseas, make sure you wear gloves, don’t bring the package indoors. If you have to, clean the package outside with alcohol and wash your hands,” Beijing Health Authority Deputy Director Pang Xinghuo said.
Meanwhile, the Public Health Agency of Canada said the virus is primarily transmitted through the air.
“While mail may be contaminated, the risk of COVID-19 infection when handling paper mail or cardboard packages, including international mail, is extremely low,” it said in an emailed statement.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said that studies show an “inability to detect the viable virus within minutes to hours” on porous surfaces, like paper.
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