People should not fear food, or food packaging, says WHO

WHO has urged people not to be afraid of the virus entering the food chain

HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/CHINA A man eats during lunch break at a fish and seafood stall at a wet market following an outbreak of the COVID-19 in Beijing | Reuters

There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19-causing coronavirus is being spread by food or packaging, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. "People should not fear food, or food packaging or processing or delivery of food," WHO head of emergencies programme Mike Ryan told a briefing in Geneva.

WHO has urged people not to be afraid of the virus entering the food chain, according to Reuters.

Two cities in China have found traces of the new coronavirus in imported frozen food and on food packaging, local authorities said on Thursday, raising fears that contaminated food shipments might cause new outbreaks. Following the incident, China has stepped up screenings at its ports.

"There is no evidence that food or the food chain is participating in transmission of this virus. And people should feel comfortable and safe."WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said China had tested hundreds of thousands of packages and "found very, very few, less than 10" proving positive for the virus.Brazil's Agriculture Ministry said in a statement that it was seeking clarification on the Chinese findings. 

Ecuadors production minister, Ivan Ontaneda, told Reuters that the country maintains strict protocols and cannot be held responsible for what happens to goods after they leave the country.

More than 20.69 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and almost 750,000 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

The WHO also urged countries now that are striking bilateral deals for vaccines not to abandon multilateral efforts, since vaccinating pockets will still leave the world vulnerable.

"The vast majority of the population of the world is susceptible to this disease," Bruce Aylward, WHO senior adviser told the briefing. "The second thing that we are seeing is the stringency of the application of control measures is dropping. People are coming closer together...masks aren't being used the way that they should etc."So any levelling of the disease that we are looking at is just lulling you into a sense of false security ... because it has lots of space to still cause trouble," Aylward added.