Manzhouli, China’s border city with Russia and a major land port for foreign trade, has banned imported fruit from entering the city, due to coronavirus fears. “Recently, in many places in China, the surfaces of imported fruits have tested positive for the coronavirus … From January 16, 2022, imported fruits will be suspended from entering Manzhouli City,” said an official announcement on Sunday by the city, located in Inner Mongolia. For imported fruits that arrived in the city and were in transit before Sunday, buyers must suspend sales and contact local market regulation authorities. Sales may resume only after undergoing a strict screening and disinfection process, according to the notice. Some local fruit shops in Manzhouli said they had already stopped, or at least slashed, their procurement of imported fruit before the ban. ‘I’m scared’: China on alert as virus found on Southeast Asian fruit “We haven’t sold imported fruit since January 1,” a local fruit stand owner said. “There have been incidents with [imported] durian and dragon fruit.” Another local fruit shop owner said: “Since the pandemic began, consumer demand for expensive imported fruit has declined.” Multiple cities in China have reported positive coronavirus results on imported fruit since last year, including cherries from Chile , dragon fruit from Vietnam and longan fruit from Thailand. This has led to temporary shutdowns of supermarkets and tighter screening and controls at produce markets, as well as suspensions of imports on specific fruit. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is highly unlikely that people can contract Covid-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus – from food or food packaging. While the WHO acknowledges someone may become infected by touching a contaminated surface, there is “no evidence to date of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses being transmitted via food or food packaging.” Although there have been no reported transmissions of the coronavirus via fruit, Chinese experts have not ruled out the possibility. Shipments of imported frozen and fresh food usually undergo stringent testing before landing on supermarket shelves. On Monday, authorities in Beijing said the city’s first Covid-19 patient diagnosed with the Omicron variant had received a letter on January 7 from Canada. It had arrived via the United States and Hong Kong. Canadian letter claimed to be potential source of Beijing Omicron infection Health officials in Beijing have suggested that citizens refrain from purchasing goods from overseas. Manzhouli features the largest land port in China, and it is responsible for handling more than 65 per cent of the land trade with Russia, according to official figures. Apart from road transport, it is also a key hub on the east channel of the China-Europe Railway Express that connects China with Russia, Belarus and European countries. It handled 2,235 inbound trains and 2,000 outbound trains last year. Those totals marked year-on-year growths of 25.6 per cent and 10.7 per cent, respectively. The city had just recovered from a recent outbreak that started in November , and it had only just resumed exports at its road port and imports at its railway port on Friday.