Recently, there have been clusters of COVID-19 infections linked to some farm-produce markets and restaurants in Beijing. Does this mean that restaurant staff face greater risk of infection? Are there more stringent anti-epidemic measures in place for these personnel? Thank you.
Thank you for your questions. As you know, the National Health Commission (NHC) has recently issued the Guidelines on Regular Prevention and Control of COVID-19 for Key Locations, Organizations and Population Groups in Low-risk Regions in Summer (Revised Edition). This stressed the measures for the protection of people involved in the food industry and the consumers of their products, including the aspects of personal hygiene, health management, respiratory hygiene, that is, wearing masks correctly and keeping proper distance while providing services, as well as consumers' food purchasing activities and household cooking. Not long ago, the NHC also organized the Technical Committee for Food Production and Operation Hygienic Codes of the National Food Safety Standards Review Committee to conduct research and draft technical guidelines for companies and staff involved in the food production and catering sectors in order to protect them from COVID-19. Based on careful study and analysis of the characteristics of the spread of the epidemic so far, especially some infection cases in food processing companies and food markets at home and abroad, and with reference to relevant WHO documents, the guidelines will include more comprehensive and systematic epidemic containment measures, factoring in the characteristics and main problems of food production, processing and services in our food processing industry and retailing, with an especial focus on food markets and the catering industry. Measures will cover the training of relevant personnel, health management, personal protection, and procedures of resumption of work and production. The guidelines will be made public after expert examination in the coming days.
In addition, the National Food Safety Standards Review Committee has recently approved a code of hygienic practice for the production and operation of food cold chains, setting out corresponding mandatory food safety requirements for all links in the chain including production, processing, transportation, and sales. It includes provisions on the environment of production and sales sites, the sanitary conditions of transportation vehicles, and food contamination prevention throughout all the links. The implementation of the code will help prevent and control food contamination caused by the coronavirus more effectively. It will soon be issued and implemented as a national food safety standard. Thank you.