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Steps ensure import supply chains unhindered

By WANG XIAOYU | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-07-13 09:40
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Shoppers buy vegetables at a supermarket in Handan, Hebei province. [Photo by Hao Qunying/For China Daily]

Local authorities have been prohibited from imposing additional COVID-19 control measures on non-cold chain imports in an effort to stabilize supply chains, the State Council's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism said in a notice released on Tuesday.

The latest research shows that at normal temperatures, the novel coronavirus only survives for a short period of time on the surface of most objects, and dies within a day.

Nucleic acid swabs have been waived for all non-cold chain imports, but any deemed at high risk of transmission will still be disinfected.

Local authorities are asked to handle products unsuited for disinfection, such as hazardous chemicals, live animals, feed, fruit and vegetables, with appropriate and targeted measures.

The document also clarified risk evaluation standards for such imports.

For instance, bulk cargoes of coal, ore, chemical raw materials and grain, as well as those transported for more than 24 hours since departure or that will not come into contact with loaders, will be designated as being low risk.

Throughout the pandemic, there has been no universal rule on the handling of non-cold chain imports in China, but sporadic reports of products such as clothing and broken rice or their packaging testing positive for the virus prompted some local officials to implement curbs.

In Dalian, a port city in Northwest China, each consignment of non-cold chain imports had to be sampled for the virus, according to a notice released by the city in April.

Li Zhengliang, an official with the General Administration of Customs, said during a news conference last week that the administration has devised new rules based on the epidemic situation in export regions and different transporting and loading approaches, so as to avoid repeated disinfection and unnecessary restrictions.

For cold-chain food products, the notice said that sampling and testing remains a significant method to fend off risks. However, customs authorities will no longer suspend import declarations from foreign companies whose products tested positive, and will only halt imports from food makers overseas that do not comply with inspections.

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