2020-06-22 10:06:37

PepsiCo China has suspended operations at a food-processing plant in Beijing and quarantined 480 people after one of its employees tested positive for the coronavirus, a company executive said at a press briefing Sunday.

Fan Zhimin, PepsiCo China’s director of corporate affairs, said the company had tested the entire plant’s staff as well as their close contacts, without specifying the number of infections. The company immediately suspended operations at the Daxing District plant — which produces potato chips and other food items — after an employee was confirmed to have the coronavirus on June 15.

A senior disease control official in Beijing said at the same press conference that eight people had tested positive at the Daxing plant. Of them, two were linked to the Xinfadi farmers market, where the capital’s outbreak is believed to have originated.

PepsiCo-owned potato chip company Lay’s said on microblogging platform Weibo that the infection was limited to “a small number” of products from one of the company’s seven food-processing plants in China, and assured the public that the coronavirus’ survival rate during food processing and transport is “very low.”

The PepsiCo infections come as Beijing is aggressively tracing and testing people with links to the Xinfadi market. As of Monday, the city had reported 236 people confirmed to have COVID-19 since the first infection was detected on June 11.

The outbreak has also spread to at least five other provinces — Hebei, Sichuan, Liaoning, Zhejiang, and Henan — according to authorities.

Last week, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the outbreak in the capital had been “contained.” Including the eight cases detected at the PepsiCo plant, Beijing reported only nine infections Monday.

On Sunday, China’s General Administration of Customs banned imports of poultry products from American meat company Tyson Foods after employees at one of its U.S. plants were found to have the coronavirus. Last week, China also prohibited pork imports from German company Tönnies Group for the same reason.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: IC)