Tech Breakdown: Why is cold chain always a risk point for COVID-19?
By Guo Meiping
Since winter, many places in China have reported strains of the coronavirus in a cold chain environment. Previous outbreaks in China's Beijing, Dalian and Qingdao were also linked to imported frozen foods.
Why is cold chain always a risk point for COVID-19?
Firstly, ability of the virus to survive in extremely low temperature makes it more likely to survive on surfaces of cold chain products.
According to top Chinese epidemiologist Li Lanjuan, a virus, in general, can survive longer in the cold. Some of the viruses we know can survive more than three to six months at 4 degrees Celsius and even 20 years at -20 degrees Celsius.
An MIT study shows that 90 percent of coronavirus transmissions occurred in regions experiencing temperatures between 3 and 17 degrees Celsius.
The study also indicated that during the COVID-19 pandemic, countries and regions with a high number of cases, including Italy, Iran, and South Korea, have had temperatures between 3 and 10 degrees Celsius.
In short, lower temperature means the higher transmission of COVID-19.
Also, cold chain related environments, such as seafood markets and logistics stations, are comparatively confined and crowded, facilitating the easy transmission of viruses.
The loading and unloading process is also a challenge for epidemic prevention because workers come in direct contact with cold chain products.
Although there have not been reports of COVID-19 cases caused by eating cold chain products so far, epidemic prevention on the cold supply chain needs to be brought to the forefront.
If you work closely around cold chain, here are some ways to protect yourself:
- Avoid direct skin contact with cold chain products that may be contaminated;
- Wear a mask when handling cold chain products from epidemic areas;
- Take off the mask last when removing protective gears.
For customers, you can prevent infection by:
- Not purchasing cold chain products from unknown origins;
- Wearing a mask when shopping cold chain products and avoiding direct skin contact;
- Washing hands after shopping;
- Cooking cold chain foods before eating.
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