OTTAWA - A claim by Chinese health authorities that the Omicron variant was introduced to a resident of Beijing through a piece of regular mail from Canada is being dismissed as ludicrous.
A Chinese state-controlled news outlet first reported that the Jan. 7 infection of a Beijing resident was the result of receiving a letter or parcel from Canada that passed through Hong Kong.
The Chinese report attributed the possibility of that having happened to the deputy director of the Beijing Centre for Disease Control in a briefing, even though organizations such as the World Health Organization and Canada Post say the risk of contracting coronavirus from a piece of mail is low.
Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, a University of Ottawa China expert who spent more than three decades in the federal public service working on China issues, says it is ludicrous to suggest it could have survived on an envelope or a package that had travelled such a distance through international mail.
McCuaig-Johnston says the Chinese allegation shows that its leadership is still targeting Canada after its long-running dispute over the arrest of high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018, an extradition case that was dropped last year, which allowed her to return to China.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says he may have his own opinion of why China was making that claim but that he deferred to experts on how COVID-19 can be spread.