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Minute by minute: the latest news about the coronavirus and the omicron variant

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Chinese health authorities reported Monday that traces of the omicron variant of the coronavirus had been found in a package sent from Canada to a woman who was later found to be infected with the variant in Beijing.

Globally, health agencies have said that surface transmission of the coronavirus is possible, but the risk is low.

The woman, who has not been identified by authorities, had tested positive for omicron on Saturday, marking the city’s first case of this highly transmissible variant. He had not been in contact with any confirmed cases and had not left the capital in the previous 14 days, according to detailed surveillance data collected by authorities.

On Monday, the deputy director of the Beijing health agency, Pang Xinghuo, said the infected woman had recently received an international package in which traces of the omicron variant had been found.

According to the Beijing health agency, the package was originally shipped from Toronto, Canada on January 7 and traveled to Beijing via the United States and Hong Kong. The patient received it on Jan. 11, Pang said.

“We have taken 22 internal and external environmental samples from this international package and have found 2 external surface samples, 2 internal surface samples and 8 internal document samples that have tested positive for covid-19 nucleic acid testing with the omicron variant,” He said.

The omicron variant strain found on the package “does not belong to the same chain of transmission with the existing omicron strain in China,” but was found to be similar to some strains in North America and Singapore based on genome sequencing, officials say. .

“The possibility that the patient was infected from foreign products cannot be ruled out,” Pang said, adding that people should continue to minimize their purchases of products from abroad.

Transmission of the coronavirus is possible after touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands, but the World Health Organization and other agencies have said the risk of transmission from surfaces is low in general.

Although the omicron variant has been found to be more airborne, there is no evidence to suggest that its surface transmissibility differs from previous coronavirus variants.

So far, the courier who delivered the package has tested negative, along with his relatives, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Administration of Posts, Liao Lingzhu, said on Monday. Three other couriers working with that courier have also tested negative and all the staff at the delivery site have been sent to the government-designated quarantine, Liao added.

On Monday, China’s post office announced that it would step up efforts to prevent covid-19 on parcels from abroad.

“It is necessary to comprehensively assess the epidemic risk level of the source of foreign parcels… and formulate epidemic prevention and control measures for foreign parcels from high-risk countries and regions,” a statement said. “[Las empresas] should reduce the express delivery of goods from high-risk countries and regions abroad.”

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