Chinese social media users have supported Beijing’s narrative that Canada sent a package of “poison” into China’s capital, explaining how the Omicron variant of Covid-19 entered the city.
One viral post on Weibo suggested that someone “deliberately” sent the alleged contaminated letter to Beijing, further warning other users to “be alert toward international mail,” according to reports.
“The people of certain countries, the blackness in their hearts is powerful!” the Weibo user wrote. “At every turn, it’s the responsibility of a foreign country,” another user declared.
Beijing had placed an office building on lockdown on Saturday after officials recorded the first entry of the Omicron variant in the city. The government said the person infected by the variant did not leave the city and did not make contact with another confirmed case in the past 14 days.
Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control, suspected that the person got infected through “an object from overseas,” a 22-page letter from Toronto that arrived in Beijing on January 11.
The Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control claimed to have tested 54 other packages from “the same source” and discovered strains of the Omicron variant on five of the packages. People who handled the letter are now under quarantine, while eight people who might have contact with it tested negative, SCMP reported.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has debunked Beijing’s narrative, explaining that “the virus is primarily transmitted through the air,” CBC reported.
“While mail may be contaminated, the risk of Covid-19 infection when handling paper mail or cardboard packages, including international mail, is extremely low,” the health agency said in a statement. “We know that the virus is most frequently transmitted when people are in close contact with others who are infected with the virus (either with or without symptoms).”
The World Health Organization and the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said that there is a low risk of getting infected after touching contaminated surfaces.
Although there is no scientific evidence behind it, some Chinese scientists reportedly promoted the “cold chain theory” to explain how Covid-19 entered China before the pandemic. The theory suggests that the virus arrived in the country through imported frozen food.