China has suspended imports of poultry products from a plant owned by an Aransas-based meat processor, Tyson Inc, that has been hit by coronavirus, as authorities struggle to bring an outbreak in Beijing under control.
China’s General Administration of Customs said on its website it had decided on the suspension after the company confirmed a cluster of Covid-19 cases at the plant, which is located in the town of Springdale.
Tyson’s spokesman Gary Mickelson said the company was looking into the issue, adding that the company works closely with US authorities to ensure its food complies with government safety requirements.
“It is important to note that the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, USDA and the US Food & Drug Administration agree that there is no evidence to support transmission of Covid-19 associated with food,” he said in an email. China also suspended pork products from German pork processor Toennies last week following a coronavirus outbreak among hundreds of its workers.
The move came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the total rising by 183,020 in a 24-hour period.
The biggest increase was from North and South America with over 116,000 new cases, according to its daily report. Total global cases are over 8.7 million with more than 461,000 deaths, according to the WHO. The previous record for new cases was 181,232 on 18 June. Most – more than 50,000 – came from Brazil, followed by the US and India.
Imports of US poultry to China have surged since Beijing ended an almost five-year ban on the trade in November 2019.
But authorities in the capital have stepped up oversight of imported foods after a new cluster of coronavirus cases were linked to a sprawling wholesale food market in Beijing just over a week ago. The city began testing meat, seafood and fresh produce last week and some ports were opening all containers of meat to carry out coronavirus tests.
On Friday, customs asked food exporters to sign a declaration that their produce is not contaminated by the virus.
The new Covid-19 outbreak, centred on the Xinfadi market in Beijing, prompted the swift reintroduction of restrictions in the capital, including residential lockdowns in 40 communities, travel restrictions, and school closures. More than 2 million people have been tested for the virus in Beijing in the past two weeks, according to the state-run Global Times. It said more than 200 people have now been confirmed with Covid-19 in the capital.
On Monday, China reported 18 new coronavirus cases, nine of which were in the capital. Local authorities are restricting movement of people in the capital and stepping up other measures to prevent the virus from spreading following a series of local infections.
Health authorities said Beijing had doubled its nucleic acid testing capacity from 100,000 a day to 230,000 a day.
On Tuesday China and the European Union will hold a video summit on the coronavirus, their first formal talks since ties soured over European accusations that Beijing has spread disinformation about the coronavirus.
The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, and European Council resident, Charles Michel, will hold video conferences with Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, and President Xi Jinping.
“We are ready to work with China. But we also expect China to assume its responsibilities as one of the world’s largest economies,” said a senior official helping prepare the summit.“The pandemic has heightened some (EU) concerns.”
No joint statement is expected after the summit, scheduled to start at 10am European time.
China’s People’s Daily said the meeting was a chance to “inject more confidence” into the global economy. In a barely veiled slight to the US, the People’s Daily said the “mutual support between China and Europe has set an example for the global epidemic battle”.
At Donald Trump’s first campaign rally since the pandemic, he again blamed China for the coronavirus, calling it “kung flu”. Last week Washington questioned China’s credibility on accurately reporting the new Covid-19 cluster in Beijing.
Other developments included:
Mexico’s total number of cases exceeded 180,500.
Police in the Netherlands arrested dozens of people at a virus protest.
New Zealand reported nine new cases, all involving citizens returning home from overseas.
The state of Victoria in Australia reimposed restrictions amid a spike in cases.