The virus was discovered on a salmon chopping board at Xinfadi food market, Beijing.

China official: No evidence that salmon caused new Covid outbreak

An official at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has said that no evidence has emerged that salmon was the host or the intermediate host of the novel coronavirus outbreak now affecting Beijing, Yicai Global website reported today.

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Yicai Global is the English-language news service of Yicai Media Group, the financial news arm of Shanghai Media Group, which is China’s leading media concern after state-owned China Central TV.

A new cluster of the Covid-19 virus was found on salmon cutting boards at Beijing’s largest wholesale food market, Xinfandi market, over the weekend. However, there was no trace of the virus on the salmon before it reached the market, Shi Guoqing, deputy director of the CDC’s emergency response centre, said at a press conference reported on by Yicai.

‘All evidence points to Xinfadi’

“At present, all the evidence points to Xinfadi, rather than to salmon,” said Zhong Kai, director of the China Food Information Centre.

No contamination has been found in restaurants selling salmon, and no infections have been found among people who eat the fish, he added. Also, there have been no Covid-19 outbreaks related to imported salmon in any other cities.

The virus, however, has also been found on the salmon cutting boards at Beijing’s Jingshen Seafood Market.

“The incubation period for the Covid-19 virus is at least three days, sometimes up to two weeks,” an epidemiologist told Yicai Global. The earliest related case was announced on June 4, which means that the infection took place three to 14 days before that.

The possibility that salmon and other aquatic products have been contaminated has not been ruled out, he told Yicai.

Local infected source

On Monday the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation pointed out that there was no credible evidence linking the Beijing outbreak to any imported food products.

“As proven by several scientific studies, including one by University College London in the past few weeks and the Asian Fisheries Society, salmon can neither be infected with, nor spread, coronavirus,” said SSPO strategic engagement director Hamish Macdonell.

“The emerging evidence, supported by Chinese experts in virology and infectious disease, points to cross-contamination from a local infected source.

“There have been no recorded cases of coronavirus among Scottish salmon sector employees.”

China is the third largest export market for Scottish salmon with approximately 9,000 tonnes worth £60 million supplied in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic has already caused Scottish salmon exports to China to fall by 80% in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period last year.