Coronavirus, COVID-19 prevention tips: Coronavirus lockdown and prevention requires all of us to stay indoors and maintain social distancing. But we need to step out to buy essentials like groceries and medicines. The novel coronavirus is not thought to be transmissible via food, but it can stay on surfaces for several days, including packaging material for foods. It is thus necessary to take extra care and other precautionary measures while going grocery shopping as well as when handling and storing groceries at home. Our expert shares tips on how we can do this and prevent the spread of the virus.
The first and foremost thing that you need to do whenever you are stepping out is wearing a mask and carrying a sanitiser with you. Dr P. Raghu Ram, President of The Association of Surgeons of India, shares the following tips as part of shopping advisory in times of coronavirus outbreak:
1. Groceries must be washed copiously with water. Anything that you bring from outside has to be considered to be potentially infected.
2. Before washing groceries, do wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
3. Also wash your hands after cooking or after you do the dishes.
4. Make sure that you discard the container of groceries in a closed dustbin. This should be done after washing your hands. After having discarded the container, wash your hands again.
5. Wash your hands before and after cooking vegetables.
Coronavirus shopping tips: Here are the other things she recommends for safe shopping (of essentials)
- Ensure only one member of the house, preferably the healthiest, goes out to buy essentials.
- Keep a sanitiser handy with you and avoid touching surfaces.
- Sanitise or wash hands after touching shopping carts, handles, or payment machines.
- Try to make cashless payments as the exchange of currency can be a potential risk factor.
- Use disposable gloves if you have them.
- Once back home, leave the shopping containers outside and consider taking a shower in the meanwhile.
- “Preliminary research shows coronavirus can survive on cardboard for 24 hours and on plastic for 72 hours. So, it’s best to use the items after this duration. Spray and wipe plastic or glass containers with bleach [carefully diluted),” Agarwal says.
- At this point, there’s no evidence that transmission is happening through food packaging, but prevention is the key.
- For unwrapped fresh goods, which could have been handled by anyone – wash thoroughly under running water and leave to dry. “According to USDA (US Department of Agriculture), there is no need to wash fruits and vegetables with detergent or soap but few healthcare experts are recommending it. You may use ozone-based fruits/ vegetable cleansers or you may soak fruits, vegetables in diluted vinegar, salt or lemon water for few hours and then leave to dry. Washing fruits/ vegetables with soap and water is still a debatable topic. Never use a bleach solution to wash fruits/ vegetables,” she adds.
- Your biggest risk from groceries and coronavirus is the time that you spend in the grocery store around people, so keep your visits short and sorted.