|A woman shops in a supermarket in Nha Trang City, Khánh Hoà Province, Việt Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo Tiên Minh|
HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Health of Việt Nam has ordered the testing of samples of food packaging imported from countries with large COVID-19 outbreaks to head off potential exposure to the virus.
The precautionary move comes as Việt Nam has largely controlled the domestic situation – it has gone more than 80 days without community transmission – but health authorities warn risks of virus resurgence remain real and significant.
To strengthen prevention measures and prevent the spread of the coronavirus into Việt Nam, the Ministry of Health – standing member of the Central Inter-agency Steering Committee on Food Safety, asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Finance (the General Department of Customs), and the People's Committees of centrally-controlled cities and provinces to instruct authorities to take strict control measures, especially against frozen food imported products from countries with outbreaks.
Samples should be collected and tested for the presence of the virus and the results submitted to the health ministry.
The ministry also called for stepped-up information campaigns and awareness-raising efforts on COVID-19 prevention and control measures.
Nguyễn Thanh Long, Minister of Health, said in a recent meeting that SARS-CoV-2 might be able to survive long on packaging in cold storage conditions, which could then transmit to humans.
Long said this was a potential source of the virus being reintroduced into the country.
China has reported that it has detected the coronavirus on frozen meat and seafood imported from several countries several times and has even imposed temporary bans, but World Health Organization (WHO) says the risk of catching COVID-19 from these sources is low compared to other more established routes of infections.
"Coronaviruses need a live animal or human host to multiply and survive and cannot multiply on the surface of food packages. It is not necessary to disinfect food packaging materials, but hands should be properly washed after handling food packages and before eating," the WHO wrote on its website. — VNS