Research conducted in China indicates the novel coronavirus may linger on chilled salmon for over a week.
Scientists at the South China Agricultural University and Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Guangzhou found evidence the virus can survive for eight days at 39 degrees Fahrenheit, the approximate temperature at which fish are transported.
The research, released Sunday, has not yet been published or peer-reviewed.
“SARS-CoV-2-contaminated fish from one country can be easily transported to another country within one week, thus serving as one of the sources for international transmission,” the researchers said.
“Different from vegetables and other food, fish have to be transported, stored and sold under a low-temperature environment,” the report states. “Fish are generally sold in quarters having temperatures much lower than regular room temperature. This means that virus attached on fish skin and sold in fish or seafood markets can survive for a long time.”
“This calls for strict inspection or detection of SARS-CoV-2 as a critical new protocol in fish importation and exportation before allowing sales,” researchers added.
China’s customs agency said in a report Tuesday that six of more than 500,000 imported meat, packaging and container samples tested positive for the virus, according to Bloomberg.
The report comes weeks after frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil tested positive for the virus in China. Municipal authorities in Shenzhen’s Longgang district said the virus was detected on a surface sample taken during a screening of imported frozen food.
The World Health Organization has previously said infection from food or food packaging is “highly unlikely.”
“There is no evidence to date of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses being transmitted via food or food packaging. Coronaviruses cannot multiply in food; they need an animal or human host to multiply,” the WHO said in August.