Poorly handled Eid meat can trigger COVID, study reveals

Image showing packs of frozen meat in a refrigerator. — AFP

In a new study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, researchers found that viruses that attach themselves to meat products can survive for over 30 days, even when the meat is stored in the fridge, and it can eventually lead to COVID.

Researchers found that COVID outbreaks across SouthEast Asia are linked to packaged meat products that already carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They say that animals need to be slaughtered and the meat handled on a clean and sanitised surface to avoid contamination.

“Continued efforts are needed to prevent contamination of foods and food processing surfaces, worker hands, and food processing utensils such as knives,” the investigators said in a statement. “…The lack of, or inadequate disinfection of these foods prior to packaging, needs to be addressed.”

For the study, researchers used three different surrogates instead of COVID-19. The study revealed that these viruses thrive in both the refrigerator and the freezer but are more resilient to the cold.

Last week, Pakistani health officials announced that social distancing and preventive measures to control infection on Eid ul Adha will effectively curb the spread of the virus. They released guidelines on how to slaughter meat to avoid contamination.

At present, Pakistan currently has over 10,000 active COVID cases. But following Eid celebrations and meat sacrifices on Sunday, Pakistani health officials are expecting the number to increase.