China tells citizens to avoid mail from abroad and open packages with gloves, claiming that Omicron is spreading through foreign post

  • China is advising people to avoid foreign mail and open packages outside, citing COVID-19 risks.

  • Beijing's disease center said an Omicron infection could have come through international mail.

  • Experts say the virus is unlikely to spread via mail, as it doesn't last long on surfaces.

Officials in Beijing are telling people to avoid international mail and to open their packages outdoors and with gloves, saying cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant could have spread through foreign mail.

Experts have repeatedly said that there is little risk of getting the coronavirus from mail. There is no indication that this has changed with the Omicron variant, though it is more infectious.

But Robin Brant, the BBC's China correspondent, tweeted on Monday that Beijing was telling residents not to order goods from abroad, and to open packages outside with gloves and a mask on.

The South China Morning Post also reported on Monday that Beijing's center for disease control and prevention said that people should order as little as possible from abroad, and that people should wear gloves and masks when opening any mail from high-risk countries.

It comes as the center said the first recorded case of the Omicron variant in Beijing could have entered via mail.

The person who was infected said they were sent mail from Canada on January 7, which had passed through Canada and Hong Kong before arriving in Beijing, the state-run People's Daily reported.

Pang Xinghuo, the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention's deputy director, said "we do not rule out the possibility that the person was infected through contacting an object from overseas," the Post reported. Pang said the Omicron variant was found on the letter, the report said.

Canada's post office noted, citing the country's public-health agency and the World Health Organization, that any risk of spreading coronavirus through mail is low as the virus does not live long on surfaces.

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