COVID-19: Being prepared and staying safe

The rapid spread of COVID-19 is certainly creating a change for many of us. Many of us are spending a lot more time inside than before, and less time doing things like traveling to the market for fresh produce.

For those of us growing our own produce, now might be the time to plant a few more seedlings and get ready for turning over your crops.  Gardening is a great way to keep your family full of fresh vegetables while providing a great outdoor activity while in isolation.

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Forward planning is also important. Think about what seeds you should be germinating now ready for planting later – as more casual gardening efforts become more important.

One of the big questions being asked often is whether COVID-19 can spread through food, and what I want to talk about today is how we keep ourselves healthy.

The health experts are currently telling us that COVID-19 is primarily spread through the air (by coughing, sneezing and being in contact with bodily fluids).  What we also know is that infected droplets can stay on hard surfaces for some time. 

If that is the case, as well as being hygienic as we would normally do with food preparation, now is the time to be especially careful with things like food packaging, as people who have been infected may have touched that item before you and put it back on the shelf.

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What experts are reasonably comfortable with at the present time is that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through food that is grown as other viruses in the same family require an animal or human host in order to grow.

Here are some additional simple precautions you can take to protect you, and your loved ones during this period of heightened awareness for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

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  1. When you shop at the market be sure not to touch your face or mouth. As you are in public areas mentally consider your hands dirty, which may help you avoid touching your face eyes and mouth.
  2. As you enter the store use wipes to clean your cart handles thoroughly and be careful which parts of the cart you touch. Avoid leaning or touching parts of the cart which haven’t been cleaned.
  3. While in the market, practice social distancing keeping approximately 1.5 metres between you and others. Your cart can be a good distancing tool.
  4. When you leave the store, have wipes handy to clean your hands – use these wipes as you get into your car, and also once you have packed away your groceries. If you are particularly worried you may also choose to wipe your hard packed groceries before you put them away.
  5. Pay with plastic rather than cash, and use contactless payments where possible. Avoid touching the machine and remember to clean your cards with a wipe regularly.
  6. Your wallet and your phone are used often in public. Clean them regularly.
  7. Considering well-cooked food over raw food could be a plus for people with compromised immune systems.  Viruses are known not to survive at high temperatures.
  8. When you are preparing vegetables for eating, clean your surfaces before cutting with disinfectant wipes. This includes your boards, countertops, sinks and knives. If you have a vegetable brush, wash and dry it between uses. 
  9. Rinse vegetables at a similar temperature to their current temperature to stop contaminants being absorbed.
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During this time we all hope your families stay happy and healthy and please avoid the temptation to hoard. Do you think we’ve missed something?  Add your suggestions to comments.

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