Tuesday March 31, 2020

Find Here if it is Actually Safe To Eat Out, Do Shopping Amist Dreadful Spread of Novel Coronavirus

Health experts are still trying to get a full grasp on how COVID-19 spreads

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Coronavirus
The Centers for Disease Control reports the virus is spread primarily from person to person through droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is also possible that a person can get coronavirus from surfaces or objects that have the virus on it. VOA

Several U.S. states are closing dine-in restaurants and bars, limiting the establishments to carry-out or delivery service, in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The governors of California, Connecticut, Ohio, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Washington State are among those who have ordered the restrictions. Mayors in some towns across the United States are also putting similar measures in place. 

“These are very difficult decisions, but hours count here and very strong measures are necessary to slow the spread of the virus,” Washington state Governor Jay Inslee said.

Ben Chapman, a professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, says it is important for people to remember that, when it comes to coronavirus, the risks of eating out have nothing to do with the food itself.

“I’m worried about someone coughing on surfaces, but food itself has not been identified at all as a risk factor in this outbreak,” Chapman says. “Eating food, handling food, has not been identified as a risk factor in this outbreak, or in any other respiratory virus outbreak.”

Health experts are still trying to get a full grasp on how COVID-19 spreads. 

The Centers for Disease Control reports the virus is spread primarily from person to person through droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is also possible that a person can get coronavirus from surfaces or objects that have the virus on it.

Coronavirus
Several U.S. states are closing dine-in restaurants and bars, limiting the establishments to carry-out or delivery service, in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus. VOA

Which means practicing good hygiene is important for those who do go to restaurants right now.

“I, typically, am going to have a menu and I’m going to order food from that menu and what I would suggest is, since I don’t know who’s maybe handled that menu before, after I handle a menu — go wash my hands or use hand sanitizer,” says Chapman. “And I would apply that same step to handling condiments on the table or salt and pepper shakers. I really could reduce my risk of not just coronavirus, but influenza as well.”

The National Restaurant Association has issued guidelines advising eating establishments in the U.S. on steps they can take to avoid spreading coronavirus. These measures include wiping surfaces down more often and using a list of disinfectants that, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, are effective against coronavirus. 

“State and local food codes establish strict safe food handling requirements for restaurants,” Larry Lynch, senior vice president of science and industry for the National Restaurant Association told VOA via email. “And operators are being proactive by stepping up existing cleaning and sanitation procedures.”

An area of concern for both restaurants and grocery stores is self-serve food bars where utensils are regularly shared. Chapman advises establishments to regularly clean or swap out shared serving utensils.

“I think that restaurants and grocery stores are taking notice of these common high-touch surfaces and best practice would be to clean and sanitize, and/or replace those in at an interval that matches how often they’re being used,” Chapman says. “That’s where it gets a little tough and you kind of have to look at it business by business.”

While people can avoid restaurants if they choose to, most will have to eventually go to the grocery store to buy food. 

While the primary risk factor is being around sick people, there is a contamination concern about hard surfaces like grocery carts, tongs and self-serve areas, sliding doors where refrigerated foods are kept, door handles, and going to the restroom. Shoppers can manage that risk by washing their hands, not touching their face, and using hand sanitizer.

But what if someone infected with coronavirus sneezes in the produce department where many fruits and vegetables are displayed out in the open? 

“Even though something like an apple seems like a really hard surface, there are a lot of biological components that can make it not the greatest surface for a virus to survive on,” Chapman says. “The fact that someone even coughs on my food is gross, but doesn’t really, at this point, increase my risk of getting coronavirus because I’m going to eat that produce, and it’s going to go into the high acids environment in my stomach.”

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Practicing good hygiene is important for those who do go to restaurants right now to avoid novel coronavirus. Pixabay

And if even carry-out food is a worry for some people, Chapman says consumers can take proper precautions.

ALSO READ: Stock Exchange in Philippines Shut Down Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

“If I’m worried about something on a package or on a bag, as soon as I’m finished touching that bag, before I touch my food, I will wash my hands and use hand sanitizer,” he says. “Do not think that you’re not in control of the risk because you do have a step to reduce your individual risk”. (VOA)

Next Story

Cancer Patients Work Together to Make Surgical Masks in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan Cancer Patients Make Face Masks to Fight COVID-19

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cancer masks
A group of cancer patients in Kyrgyzstan is working to meet the demand for protective surgical masks while earning funds to help pay for their treatments. Pixabay

A group of cancer patients in Kyrgyzstan is working to meet the demand for protective surgical masks while earning funds to help pay for their treatments.

The group is organized by an association known as “Together for Life,” established in July 2019. Originally, the group made handbags and purses as a kind of therapy, as well as financial aid for women overcoming cancer.

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But once the demand for masks increased, the president of the group, Aigul Kydyrmysheva, told The Associated Press that they received permission from the Ministry of Health to switch to making the protective gear.

cancer masks
Members of a public association, which comprises people suffering from various types of cancer, produce medical masks, which are widely used as a preventive measure against the coronavirus outbreak, in a sewing workshop in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. VOA

Kydyrmysheva said they market their products through social media and that while bigger factories can produce masks faster, many customers have turned to them, understanding that their profits go to a good cause.

Also Read- Approx Half of Indian Do Not back Up Their Data or Files, Says Survey

The group works nearly round-the-clock, making as many as 1,000 masks a day, which earns them about $2,500 a month. In turn, they have been able to allocate about $770 a month to offset cancer treatment drugs. (VOA)