A local food vendor is offering refunds for its prepackaged frozen Thai crocodile ribs after a fridge sample of the meat from an infected teenager’s home tested positive for COVID-19.
The chain store, HK JEBN, wrote in a statement on Facebook Tuesday night that it is complying with health authorities’ requests to stop all sales of the crocodile meat and provide product samples for testing.
Customers who purchased the frozen crocodile ribs can also get it refunded, the store added.
After a 17-year-old girl tested positive for a mutant strain of COVID-19 earlier this month, authorities have gone all out to trace the patient’s infection, the source of which is still unknown.
They said Tuesday that traces of the virus were found on a package of frozen crocodile meat in the girl’s Tin Shui Wai home, where she lives with her mother and sister. (Both family members also tested positive for COVID-19).
The girl, however, reportedly admitted to sneezing on the package, suggesting she may have infected the food rather than the other way around.
“It is unlikely at this point that the infection did occur from contaminated meat packaging,” University of Hong Kong epidemiologist Benjamin Cowling told RTHK. “For this particular possibility, I think the next step is really to look at whether the virus matches.”
Chinese University professor David Hui, who also advises the government on its pandemic response, similarly expressed skepticism.
The 17-year-old’s infection was Hong Kong’s first untraceable case in over 40 days, according to RTHK, triggering an overnight lockdown at her residence, Shing Yu House in Tin Shing Court. None of the about 850 residents who underwent compulsory testing were confirmed with COVID-19.