China recommends gloves, masks when opening international mail amid probe into Beijing’s first omicron case
Authorities in China are advising citizens to wear gloves and masks when handling international mail as the first case of omicron in Beijing is suspected to be linked to a package delivered from Canada.
“Minimize purchases of overseas goods or receiving mail from abroad,” state broadcaster CCTV said in a Monday social media post, according to Reuters.
“Be sure to protect yourself during face-to-face handovers and wear masks and gloves; try to open the package outdoors,” CCTV added.
Chinese officials have also reportedly pledged to increase efforts to disinfect mail that comes into the country and have called for all postal staff handling the mail to be fully vaccinated.
Some health officials said that the individual who was infected with the omicron variant in Beijing opened a package that had come from Canada and was routed through the U.S. and Hong Kong, noting that the possible transmission from the package “could not be ruled out,” according to Reuters.
Ben Cowling, the University of Hong Kong’s chair professor of epidemiology, said earlier this week, however, that the risk associated with contaminated surfaces is typically very low.
“Virus can remain viable on surfaces for a while at cold temperatures, but transmission via contaminated surfaces is not a common route of transmission,” Cowling said.
Despite the low risk, China’s State Post Bureau on Monday issued a notice requiring all international mail to be disinfected after reaching the country. The China Post also has reminded recipients of mail from overseas to disinfect it “in a timely manner.”
The new developments come just three weeks ahead of the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to begin on February 4.
Officials in several cities across China have begun work recently to halt new outbreaks of coronavirus infections.
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