Discovery of contaminated fruit export prompts order for tests

Discovery of contaminated fruit export prompts order for tests

CHANTHABURI: Operators of the fruit export sector are being told to implement strict Covid-19 protocols after a shipment to China was banned from entering the country for three days due to the discovery of traces of the coronavirus on the surface of durian packages.

Governor Suthee Thongyaem has issued an order requiring operators in the fruit trade to comply with disease control measures, including the need to test workers for Covid-19.

The move comes after a Thai shipment of the fruit at China's Mohan checkpoint was found to be contaminated, resulting in a ban from Tuesday to yesterday. It was not clear what kind of testing revealing the contamination was carried out. The virus was detected on trucks and the surface of packages.

According to the governor's order, local authorities must conduct random Covid-19 tests of workers on the premises of fruit trading businesses. A three-day closure is recommended if there is an outbreak.

If premises must be closed for an extended period, the governor should be notified so the provincial disease control committee can order closure and provide necessary measures to contain the outbreak, the order said.

Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Chalermchai Sri-on, said he has instructed various agencies to boost Covid-19 protocols to avoid Thai durian imports from being banned in China.

Chonlatee Numnoo, director of the Agricultural Research and Development Office in Region 6, said about 25,000 out of 720,000 tonnes of durian, or 4% of the overall output, have been shipped to China, so strict measures must be implemented.

However, keeping packages and trucks from 350 packaging facilities free of Covid-19 is challenging, he said. "The contamination is because the package [facilities] don't strictly follow the GMP Plus. We can only ask for their cooperation," he said, referring to Good Manufacturing Practices-Plus.

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