The latest round of COVID-19 infections in Nanjing, East China’s Jiangsu Province, were traced back to a flight from Russia, according to the Nanjing health authority on Friday. When cleaning the cabin, the airport cleaning staff became infected.
The city discovered that the genetic sequences of the cleaners at Nanjing Lukou International Airport, who were reported as confirmed cases at the start of the outbreak, are consistent with those of imported cases on the flight CA910, which arrived in Nanjing on July 10 from Russia, according to local authorities.
Since China implemented “circuit breaker” measures for inbound air flights in June 2020, flight CA910 has been suspended ten times for carrying passengers who tested positive for COVID-19, according to media reports. It was suspended three times in July alone.
CA910 transported 69 COVID-19 patients from Moscow to Chinese cities including Nanjing, Tianjin, and Zhengzhou in ten flights that triggered a “circuit breaker,” according to China Youth Daily on Friday.
The virus was most likely contracted by cleaning staff who did not strictly adhere to personal protection requirements while performing a deep clean of flight CA910, according to a press release issued by the Nanjing Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Nanjing CDC) on Friday.
According to Nanjing CDC, investigations revealed that the cleaners were in charge of garbage removal for both domestic and international flights. The other cases at the airport were infected through contact with cleaners or exposure to a contaminated environment, according to the report.
According to Ding Jie, the CDC’s deputy director, the Nanjing CDC has finished sequencing the virus genes of 52 cases in the outbreak, all of which are of the Delta strain.
“These viruses’ gene sequences are highly homologous, implying they are from the same transmission chain,” Ding added.
On Thursday, Nanjing authorities identified 13 local COVID-19 patients. Since the latest outbreak on July 20, the city has reported a total of 184 confirmed cases and one silent carrier.