Norwegian salmon blamed for Beijing coronavirus outbreak
Chinese consumers have almost completely stopped buying imported salmon from Norway after a coronavirus outbreak at a fish market in Beijing was blamed on the fish.
"We are receiving reports of cancellations of orders for fresh salmon to the market as a result of the measures for testing food that have now been implemented," Victoria Braathen, fisheries envoy to the Norwegian Seafood Council, told state broadcaster NRK.
The salmon scare began after a cutting board at a fish stall in Xinfadi market, the largest fresh food market in Beijing, tested positive for the virus.
All three of the first people who tested positive to the virus in Beijing had visited the market in the preceding days.
After Chinese authorities launched widespread testing in the capital, 79 people have tested positive out of 80,000 tested.
Yang Peng, a member of the Beijing CDC New Coronary Pneumonia Outbreak Prevention and Control Expert Group, told China's CCTV News that the outbreak could have come into China with contaminated seafood or meat.
"Through testing it was discovered that the virus came from Europe. The preliminary assessment is that it is related to imports. However, it is unclear where the virus comes from. It could be contaminated seafood or meat, or it could come from people who have been on the market," he said.
However, Espen Nakstad, who leads Norway's coronavirus response at the Norwegian Directorate of Health said he didn't believe that the virus had come into China in salmon.
"It is a little difficult to imagine how a salmon can bring coronavirus to China," he told NRK.
Whether the outbreak came in on Norwegian fish or not, the impact on salmon sales is very real. According to the Global Times newspaper, many supermarkets have now removed Norwegian salmon from the shelves.
"There is not a single customer who wants to come to our restaurant right now, since salmon has been made the scapegoat," the general manager of Beijing's Haile'er restaurant, which specialises in Norwegian salmon, told NRK.