Coronavirus: China halts salmon imports after new outbreak in Beijing

China has stopped importing salmon from Europe after the coronavirus was found on chopping boards used for foreign fish.

Chinese authorities confirmed a spike of 79 coronavirus cases over four days in Beijing, where an outbreak was traced to a market that supplies much of the city’s meat and vegetables.

State-run newspapers said the virus was discovered on chopping boards used for imported salmon at the Xinfadi market.

Authorities also locked down the neighbourhood around a second market, where three cases were confirmed.

Inspectors found 40 samples of the virus at one of the markets, which prompted some supermarket chains to take salmon off their shelves over the weekend.

Beijing had reported no new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases for more than 50 days prior to the current outbreak.

According to Jiemian.com, Chile, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Australia, Canada are the main sources of salmon imports.

Norwegian fish companies said they had suspended salmon sales to China.

Regin Jacobsen, chief executive of salmon supplier Bakkafrost, said: “We can’t send any salmon to China now, the market is closed.”

Norway Royal Salmon also said it had also paused sales.

However, the country’s food safety authority said there was no evidence of fish posing a risk.

A Norway Seafood Council spokesman said: “We have seen no official statements saying what was the route of the coronavirus.

“On the other side, food safety bodies have been adamant about the risks of coronavirus and seafood in general, in terms of them not being connected.”

Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, backed the statement.

He told China Daily he could not confirm salmon in the market was the source just based on the chopping board testing positive.

He said: “There may be other possibilities such as that one owner of a cutting board was infected, or other food sold by an owner of a cutting board tainted it.

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