The member of the COVID technical table of Chile, doctor and master’s degree in public health María Teresa Valenzuela, declared that all studies indicate that the maximum duration of the coronavirus on surfaces is 14 days and a boat trip from Chile to the Asian country is not completed in less than 25.
On January 21 news began to circulate in China about an alleged detection of traces of COVID-19 in boxes of imported cherries. Immediately reacted in Chile, in order to establish dialogues with the Agricultural Livestock Service (SAG), the Chinese embassy and different unions with the aim of clarifying the situation.
From the Association of Exporters of Chile (ASOEX), Ronald Bown, its president, analyzed the delicate moment that the cherry-producing industry is experiencing due to the complaint, to the point of compare it with the crisis that Chile experienced in 1989, after the outbreak of the emblematic case of the “Poisoned grapes”. “It is quite a complex situation, I have no doubt that it is the most complex we have lived in 30 years, from the poisoned fruit”, he declared.
At the time, Bown provided details of a conflict that occurred as a result of a publication that was not followed quickly and consistently in consideration of the effects and, according to him, “it was not given much importance at the beginning, unfortunately,” he said.
However, as the days passed, the information became more and more important. To the point of formally speaking of crisis, in light of the declarations of the product’s own exporters in Chile. As reported, Meetings have already been held between officials of the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture with exporters and representatives of the Chinese embassy.
The uproar generated by the cherry crisis set off the alarms both in exporters and agriculturalists as well as in the Government, in fact the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Agriculture personally participated in meetings with the Chinese ambassador.
Chile handles 95% of cherry exports to China, and to date 130 million kilos of cherries have been sold, leaving a remainder of 190 million kilos to be sold, equivalent to US $ 1,200 million dollars. With all this uncertainty, one of the members of the COVID-19 Advisory Council whose role is to provide information and data for the health procedures available to the Ministry of Health (MINSAL), the doctor and master’s degree in public health María Teresa Valenzuela, she explained that “from the laboratory view it is possible to detect the presence of the virus in food, but it is quite rare. We have learned from the pandemic that surfaces and food may have the presence of coronavirus, but it is not the main route of transmission“, she declared in the middle of a seminar called” Perspectives of COVID-19 and the economy in Chile “organized by the Catholic University of Chile.
The doctor and master in public health María Teresa Valenzuela responded to the thesis that a shipment of cherries arrived with coronavirus in China.
In the event, the doctor was consulted about the resistance period of the virus. Her answer was categorical and on the grounds that the ships take around 23 to 25 days to move the fruit shipments to China, stated that “the maximum duration of the virus is 14 days in some type of surface material, such as wood, but not 25 days. It will be necessary to analyze that with enough emphasis to confirm that the virus could last that many days in transport. However, effectively all studies confirm that it is 14 days and not 25”, she asserted.
To the information provided by the expert, the statements of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andrés Allamand, who stated that “the situation continues to be particularly complex.” In addition, he assured that to date, the Asian country has not issued an official communication involving Chilean cherries, for which he expressed that what is happening at the moment responds to “a communicational cloud adverse to the acquisition of foreign fruits”.
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