What are the risks of contracting COVID-19in supermarkets? Can you become infected when you’re out shopping? So many questions have arisen since this global pandemic first started. To limit the risks of catching COVID-19 in supermarkets, just like everywhere else, it is essential to respect social distancing and follow the safety measures that have been put in place. This means always ‘wearing a mask, washing your hands and maintaining social distances’. Dr Pierre Parneix, a medical officer from the University Hospital of Bordeaux, assures that if these rules are strictly followed by everyone, the risks aren’t as high. Here are the mistakes he believes we should be avoiding and some advice to bear in mind when you go shopping.
Not washing your hands before and after you go shopping
This cannot be stressed enough. Washing your hands frequently is a must during the COVID-19 pandemicand this is all the more true when visiting busy places such as supermarkets. Why? When we go shopping, we tend to touch various, potentially contaminated, services and products. Washing your hands properly and often is essential, so officials suggest always having a bottle of hand sanitiser in your pocket or your bag and using it regularly, in addition to washing your hands with soap and water before leaving home and when you get back.
Touching everything in the store
Although washing your hands is a good way to limit the risks of catching the virus,the best thing to do is always avoid touching surfaces and products in the stores as much as possible. Do you pick up fruit and vegetables to check how ripe they are? You should avoid doing this, not only to protect yourself but to protect others as well because these products could be contaminated. What about shopping trolleys, which some people have compared to railings on buses, trains and the underground? If you wash and disinfect your hands often and avoid touching your face, there is no reason to fear!
Not removing all unnecessary packaging
Coronavirus or not, people suggest removing unnecessary packaging, like that on packs of yoghurts for example, when you get home from the shop. And there’s a good reason to do this under normal circumstances since it means food can be more easily stored in the fridge! This habit makes even more sense during the pandemic since it also helps limit the risks of spreading the virus, which, according to some studies, can survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard.
Forgetting to wash fruit and vegetables
According to the USDA, ‘public health and food safety experts do not have any evidence to suggest that COVID-19can be transmitted by food or food packaging.’ But just in case, washing fruit and vegetables is nevertheless recommended before you put them in the fridge. This is also a good habit to get into even when there is no pandemic! We don’t mean that you should be scrubbing your food with soap and bleach, but giving them a simple rinse with clean water would be beneficial enough. However, the risks are still rather low, especially when these products are heated to high temperatures which would eliminate the virus.