SARS-CoV-2 Can Spread Through Cold-chain Transport
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In light of growing evidence, researchers say that SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission via contaminated surfaces, and in particular, frozen foods and products that are transported while keeping them at low temperatures, should be taken into account when devising prevention strategies.

The virus is stable at low temperatures and can remain on the packaging of cold-chain products. Reports from China in the last few months indicate several infections. The live virus was isolated from the packaging in Qingdao, raising the possibility that trade may be causing virus to spread.

~ Virus can stay alive on surfaces for many days

In a previous study, researchers reported that livestock processing industries contribute significantly to SARS-CoV-2 transmission. One reason for the increase in transmission risk is the low indoor temperature. After slaughter, the meat processing area is generally kept between 0 and 12 °C, which allows the virus to remain stable.

Another study reported the stability of SARS-CoV-2 on a variety of surfaces. They found that the presence of a tiny protein in respiratory droplets that can prolong the life of the virus on many different surfaces. Thus, viruses in aerosol droplets from infected persons that settle on surfaces can stay alive, sometimes for more than four days.

~ Cold-chain virus transport

All these reports provide growing evidence of how SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted by trade, particularly when the transported goods are maintained at low temperatures. In a letter researchers argue that livestock plants and cold-chain industries play a key role in virus transmission and should be taken into account when implementing COVID-19 prevention strategies.

Thus, supervising meatpacking and scattered small-scale meat production could help disease prevention. The authors suggest that the environment in these plants and cold-chain industries should be tested regularly along with frequent disinfection. Imported cold-chain or frozen products should also be sampled and tested to identify any contaminated products and take control measures in time.

Furthermore, any personnel handling such goods should wear personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves. Such personnel should also be screened routinely for the virus. Wiping all frozen packages using disinfectant wipes may also be useful in eliminating the virus.

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