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Global Times

Hubei govt apologizes for punishing residents who unknowingly bought coronavirus tainted imported pork

Global Times

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/12 11:45:07

The government of Huanggang, Central China's Hubei Province rescinded an order to fire and fine members of 24 Huanggang households for buying Brazil-imported frozen pork online, which later tested positive for the coronavirus.

The government apologized for attempting to dismiss people from their jobs and fining them 200 yuan ($30.5) each, saying it was "inappropriate punishment." The local government has ordered them into home quarantine.

Media reported that residents of those households were asked by their employers to quit their jobs.

Local authorities in Huangzhou district of Huanggang city — where the residents live — have banned all purchases, storage and sales of imported frozen products since October 28, yet the 24 households still managed to purchase frozen meat from the same batch that contained contaminated items.

The Hubei government issued a public notice on December 8 that the packaging of the same batch of imported meat had tested positive.

One of the residents said he didn't see the notice, and wasn't aware the meat was imported. All residents have tested negative for the virus.

The punishment imposed by the local government later sparked controversy online with many netizens saying it was an "overreaction."

Huanggang local government vowed to continue strict inspection on cold-chain products and plug any loopholes.

All personnel who had contact with the contaminated packaging received free nucleic acid test and are home quarantined, said the government. According to previous media report, the residents had to pay the test fees by themselves.

Meituan, the online platform from which the pork was bought, is now being investigated by the local police department.

Across the country, stricter measures regulating imported cold-chain products are now being implemented after successive reports of imported cold-chain food samples testing positive for COVID-19 in the past few months, with experts noting that such cases could pose a risk of another outbreak in China this winter.

The city of Hefei, the capital of East China's Anhui Province, became the first city to require buyers of imported cold-chain products to use their real-name identity. A number of cities including Beijing and Tianjin also launched new rules to regulate cold-chain food markets.

More than 40 such cases contaminated food packaging have been reported in at least 16 provinces and regions, leading to infections in North China's Tianjin and East China's Qingdao.



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