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Coronavirus: Here’s how to shop safely

  • Published at 01:54 pm April 13th, 2020
commodities shop
File photo of a commodities shop Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Use these tips for safe grocery shopping  

Staying at home is perhaps the most basic social distancing measure of fighting the rapid spread of coronavirus. But there are some exceptions – like grocery shopping.

Some of us still have to venture out once in a while to buy food and toiletries. When we do that, it is paramount that we take utmost care of our activities outside to make sure that we don’t bring the virus home with us. 

The following tips may be useful for safe grocery shopping.

Be wary of the people, not the food

The biggest risk in grocery stores comes from other people who may be infected, rather than boxes or packets. 

Avoid crowds and shop quickly

It is well advised to look for grocery stores that limit the number of shoppers who are allowed to go in at one time. Fewer people inside the store makes it easier to maintain social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other people.

Getting in and out as fast as possible minimizes risk.

Wear a mask

Although masks are not very useful at protecting the wearer from coronavirus infection, they are quite effective at protecting others from the wearer, if the person is infected. So, the more people wear masks, the less chance there is of the disease spreading.

Go alone

It is best to go to the store alone if possible. Bringing others along just increases crowding and increases the odds of someone getting infected. 

Sanitize carts and hands

Sanitizing the handles of your cart or basket is helpful. Sanitize your hands and avoid touching your eyes.

It is also a good idea not to use cellphone inside the store as Covid-19 can survive fairly long on its surfaces.

Avoid using gloves

Gloves may get contaminated when something infected is touched while wearing them. But unlike hands, they are not easy to wash repeatedly. It is better to not use gloves, and to simply wash your hands frequently. 

Maintain space from the cashier

Workers at grocery stores interact with many people daily, putting them at high risk of being infected. Keeping distance from them is well advised for both parties.

Avoid cash payment if possible

Cash notes can harbor lots of microorganisms, although it is not certain how long coronavirus can survive on them. For the time being, it is best to avoid them whenever possible.

However, using credit card transaction requires touching a keypad, which may be contaminated as well. It is safer to use online payment if that option is available.p

Don't drive yourself crazy disinfecting your groceries

The probability of getting infected from a contaminated surface is not zero, but it is fairly low. That's because respiratory droplets would have to have landed on the exact spot on, say, a box of cereal that you are touching. And even then, you would have to get enough residual virus on your hand to start an infection.

Washing your hands after unpacking your groceries is more important.

If you are worried about food that does not need to be refrigerated, just leave it out for 24 hours. If you really want to wash your groceries, do not use disinfecting spray or wipes.

Should you shower or change clothes after shopping? It depends

If you live with someone who is at high risk for severe disease with Covid-19, showering and changing might be a reasonable precaution to take. But since you don’t routinely put your face or mouth all over your clothing, it is not mandatory. 

Order online whenever possible

One simple way to stop worrying about grocery shopping and to practice social distancing is online delivery. You can pay ahead of time online and have the groceries delivered outside your door with no face-to-face contact.

A word about frozen food

Freezing food does not kill the virus. Refrigerating or freezing may actually help the virus survive longer.

If you are worried about handling a frozen dinner, just throw away the packaging and remember to wash your hands after you have removed the food.

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