HIV-infected parcels found in Beijing

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Beijing, Oct 22 (IANS) Beijing’s quarantine authority has issued warnings against the mailing of unauthorised substances through postal or parcel delivery services after HIV-antigens were found in two packages in the Chinese capital.

Zhou Xiaoping, a quarantine officer in charge of air delivery services at Beijing Capital International Airport, said on Wednesday that about 29,400 international parcels and luggage containing dangerous and illegal substances were intercepted at the airport during the first three quarters of this year, a 2.1 percent increase from last year, the China Daily reported on Thursday.

Two separate parcels containing HIV-antigens, which could lead to infection, were found in regular packages. Seven vials of HIV-antigen and HIV-antibody were also found in a parcel sent to a pharmaceutical business in Tianjin in August. Another parcel with eight vials of blood products and HIV-antigens was being sent to a biological agent company in Beijing in September.

Also, around 1,100 pest-infested items were found in parcels and luggage brought to Beijing. A variety of non-Chinese species, including Pratylenchus vulnus, a parasitic worm responsible for root lesion disease in plants, have been detected in the parcels.

He Xiong, deputy director at the Beijing Centre for Disease Control, said HIV-antigen is widely used in drug and diagnostic agent research and development at biochemical and pharmaceutical companies. If it leaks, it might pollute the environment and endanger human health.

He urged border inspection and quarantine authorities to increase routine checkups to make sure such substances with potential biological risks are packed and transported appropriately.

An average of 12,000 deliveries are processed at the airport each day, but only a small percentage of them are selected for quarantine inspection, said Jia Ruixiang, an officer in charge of parcel quarantine examination.

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