A national platform designed to trace and manage cold-chain imports has been established and put into operation recently as China tightens measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 infections from cold, imported food products, according to the country’s top market regulator.

Nine provinces and municipalities that serve as the first point of entry for more than 90 percent of all such products are now linked to the new platform, according to an article posted on the website of the State Administration for Market Regulation on Wednesday evening.

With the rollout of the platform, “we have basically expanded our online tracing capability to cover the entire industry chain, from customs clearance, production and processing to wholesaling, retailing and catering services,” the administration said.

The platform has also played a significant role in screening cold imports online, implementing targeted supervision and facilitating on-site management.

“The outcomes of efforts devoted to stemming virus risks arising from objects have begun to materialize,” the administration said.

It added that it has used advanced technologies to overcome barriers in identifying and consolidating different sets of information nationwide.

During a video conference held by the administration on Tuesday with local market regulators, the administration stressed that all cold imports that lack inspection and quarantine certificates, nucleic acid test reports, disinfection certificates and information on their origin and flow will be banned from entering the market.

Businesses should be urged to upload key data on shipments’ origins, destinations, quantities and locations in a timely manner. When an abnormal situation arises, local officials should be able to swiftly screen all imports and identify suspicious cargo, the administration said.

Key port cities are required to fully implement disinfection, testing and information collection procedures, as well as strengthen cooperation between different departments and regions, it said.

In addition, local market regulators are required to screen all enterprises involved in handling cold imports, including importers, agricultural markets and online e-commerce platforms.

Sellers of products that test positive for the novel coronavirus will be guided to pull such products and handle problematic batches immediately, it added.

Evidence of the virus’ ability to travel and survive on cold imports has accumulated in recent months. Experts have also noted that the transmission risk is mostly associated with logistics and transportation, so the possibility of consumers catching the virus from cold products is very low.

Li Ning, deputy director for the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, said during a news conference held in late November that about 4.8 per 100,000 products sampled for nucleic acid testing had tested positive.

Given the potential risk, Chinese authorities have moved to intensify testing over cold-chain shipments and halt imports from foreign enterprises deemed to be at higher risk of shipping products contaminated with the virus into the country. Workers involved in handling cold imports are also undergoing regular tests.

Before the national platform’s launch, a number of regions, including Zhejiang province, Beijing and Shanghai, had already launched similar, regional platforms.

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