China orders regular coronavirus tests at wholesale markets

BEIJING (Reuters) - China asked local authorities to carry out regular coronavirus tests at wholesale markets, the country’s health authority said on Thursday, part of an all-out effort to control the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) has urged local authorities to strengthen monitoring for the coronavirus at major wholesale markets that can cover extensive neighbouring areas, especially those with stands selling frozen and refrigerated meats and seafood, or with moist and closed spaces, according to a notice published on the commission’s website.

The guideline come after China’s capital city Beijing reported in early June a cluster of coronavirus infections that centred around a major wholesale market.

Local working groups in charge of coronavirus control and prevention must collect samples from major wholesale markets, especially those selling meats and seafood, once every week for coronavirus tests. However, smaller wholesale markets can do testing once a month.

Areas and objects at the markets that should be tested for the coronavirus include knives used at major stands, workers’ clothes surface, freezers, meats and seafood, sewage, restrooms, garbage trucks, and offices, according to the NHC notice.

China has already started COVID-19 testing on imported meats and seafood, and at domestic meat processors. It has also banned shipments from a list of meat processing plants overseas.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Tom Daly; Editing by Christian Schmollinger