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  • Doctors Lay Down 7 Essential Grocery Shopping Tips Now And Even After ECQ

    These are the proper hygiene and wise shopping tactics for our new normal.
    by Rachel Perez .
Doctors Lay Down 7 Essential Grocery Shopping Tips Now And Even After ECQ
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Without a vaccine or an effective course of treatment, the threat of COVID-19 remains. In grocery shopping, for example, experts advised that food and goods be disinfected before storing them in the refrigerator or pantry. But the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), however, stressed there is no observed trend of COVID-19 infections from groceries.

    Here's what life after ECQ — our new normal — could look like.

    Disinfecting groceries and showering or changing clothes may not be necessary

    It may possible to contract COVID-19 through contaminated groceries, but the primary mode of transmission is respiratory droplets. It takes one respiratory droplet to land on the milk carton you touch and bring home to get infected. However, virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen, of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, in New York City, says that's rare. 

    Getting rid of packaging and transferring food into clean containers is good enough. If you still want to disinfect your groceries, use soap and water to avoid contaminating food with chemicals, advises virologist Dr. Rachel Graham of the University of North Carolina's Gillings School of Global Public Health. Do wipe down countertops with disinfectant after sorting your groceries, and wash your hands with soap and water.   

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    If you strictly follow good hygiene practices when you're out, then showering, changing, or disinfecting clothes after a grocery run can be optional. It is, however, recommended for families who have young kids, who may not yet understand the importance of not touching the face, and people susceptible to COVID-19 like the elderly.

    Better yet, if you can have groceries delivered to you, then go for it. You may have to order in advance, but at least you won't need to go out.

    Proper hygiene and wise shopping tactics, according to doctors

    It's still always better to err on the side of caution, yes. But disinfecting each grocery item can sometimes be a chore. Space to leave groceries untouched or shower and change clothes before going inside the house can also be difficult for people who live in condominiums.

    So how can one practice good hygiene and shop wisely in supermarkets? Here are tips from Drs. Rasmussen and Graham, infectious disease specialist Dr. David Aronoff, and food microbiologist Dr. Donald Schaffner, a professor at Rutgers University, in New Jersey.

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    1. Avoid crowds.  

    Choose your supermarket wisely. Observe which ones many people go to and opt for one that has fewer people. Try to go during its off-peak hours, so there are fewer shoppers, and proper physical distancing — at least six feet away from other shoppers — can be enforced at all times.

    2. Shop quickly.

    Make your list ahead of time and stick to it. Be purposeful when shopping, so you can finish as quickly as possible. Don't take much time choosing items or grabbing things and putting them back on the shelves. Just grab what you need and go.

    3. Wear a mask. 

    It's mantadory to wear a mask, even an improvised cloth mask, every time you go out. It helps prevent possibly infected persons and asymptomatic individuals or those who do not have symptoms, from infecting others. It also acts as a barrier between unsanitized hands and direct access to your nose and mouth.

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    If you're wearing a disposable one, remove it without touching the outside part and dispose of properly. Don't use a mask twice. Washable ones should be washed right after use and let dry.   

    4. Go alone.

    If two from the same household go to the store, they have twice the chance of infection. It also doubles the risk of infecting other members of the family who stayed at home. The more people go out, the higher the risk of contracting COVID-19. 

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    5. Don't use your mobile phone in the store.

    A "phone is a great way to get your hands right up next to your face," Dr. Rasmussen says. It's hard to keep track of what your hands have touched before you take a call or consult your virtual list. Don't forget to sanitize carts (but supermarkets already do this) and don't touch your face. 

    6. Skip the gloves. 

    Simple using gloves doesn't make you safe  from the virus. If the gloves become contaminated, so will everything you touch with your gloves. If you insist on using a pair when your shop, remove it properly and dispose of it as you would a disposable mask. 

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    7. Choose no-touch payment, if you can. 

    Studies have shown that cash (bills and coins) is already a magnet for germs even without the threat of COVID-19. If you have the option to pay via debit or credit card and other modes of cashless payment, then do so. You can pay for your transactions via online bank transfer. 

    Washing hands with soap and water is still everyone's best defense against COVID-19. Prevention also includes washing fresh produce or raw meat with plain water before cooking, as well as washing hands before eating. These are safe food preparation practices that should always be done at home with or without the threat of COVID-19.

    This story was updated on August 23, 2020, at 6:45 p.m.

    For the latest COVID-19 cases, check out our reportr COVID-19 case tracker link.

    For the latest news and updates on COVID-19, check out reportr.world/covid-19.

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