WHO downplayed the risk of catching the novel coronavirus from food, after Chinese testers found traces on food packaging.
Local authorities said, two cities in China have found traces of the new coronavirus in cargoes of imported frozen foods.
A sample is taken from the surface of frozen chicken wings imported into the southern city of Shenzhen from Brazil, as well as samples of the outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp sold in the northwestern city of Xian, have tested positive for the virus.
The authorities said they immediately screened people who had been in contact with the contaminated products, plus their relatives, and all the tests came back negative.
The World Health Organization said there was no need to panic — viruses can survive up to two years at a temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius, but scientists and officials say there were no examples of the respiratory disease being transmitted through food.
In a briefing, WHO Head of Emergencies Program Mike Ryan said, “People should not fear food, food packaging or delivery of food.”
The U.S Food and Drug Administration and Agriculture Department said in a joint statement “there is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging.”
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, said the United Nations health agency was aware of the reports and understood that China was looking for the virus on food packaging.
“They’ve tested a few hundred thousand samples of looking at packaging and have found very, very few, less than 10 positive in doing that,” she said.
“We know that the virus can remain on surfaces for some time. If the virus is actually in food – and we have no examples of where this virus has been transmitted as a food-borne, whereas someone has consumed a food product – the viruses can be killed, like other viruses as well, if the meat is cooked,” she added.