June 20, 2020 / 4:55 AM / 22 days ago

Beijing tests food, parcel couriers for coronavirus as city checks widen

BEIJING, June 20 (Reuters) - Officials in Beijing are carrying out nucleic acid tests on all food and parcel delivery personnel as they ramp up efforts to rein in an outbreak of the coronavirus in the Chinese capital, state-backed Beijing News reported on Saturday.

Officials have been expanding testing across the city of 20 million since a cluster of new infections linked to a food wholesale market erupted just over a week ago. The outbreak, the first in Beijing in months, has now surpassed previous peak numbers in early February.

Testing for COVID-19 initially focused on residential areas near the sprawling Xinfadi market and on people who worked or shopped there.

Officials are now targeting the tens of thousands of delivery personnel who regularly traverse the city, where fleets of motorised pedicabs and scooters ridden by couriers delivering parcels and food are a common sight.

Workers at SF Express, China’s second biggest courier firm, arrived in batches at testing points in Beijing on Friday evening, Beijing News reported.

Food delivery firm Meituan Dianping confirmed on Friday all its Beijing riders would be tested and those who had carried out deliveries in high-risk areas would be temporarily taken off duty, undergo nucleic acid tests and be quarantined at home for 14 days.

Customers will be able to view details on disinfection of the delivery package and their courier’s body temperature online, Meituan said on its Wechat acccount.

Beijing News said that all couriers in the city would be tested by next week.

Officials have highlighted the risk of contamination through packaging in Beijing, which reported 22 new cases on Friday. The city has now recorded more than 200 locally transmitted infections since June 11.

Officials have been testing people working in catering, including restaurant staff, as well as imported food after the virus was found on chopping boards at Xinfadi used to handle salmon.

Reporting by Tom Daly and Xiao Han; editing by Jane Wardell

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