Are there risks of getting coronavirus from grocery shopping?

Grocery Shopping

Today, grocery shopping is perhaps the only outdoor activity for many people. Many people have asked whether it is possible to bring home coronavirus while getting groceries. The chance is very low, if you do all the things right!

As with any occasion, maintaining a 2 metres distance with other people is the most important thing to do. This includes staff and other shoppers.

Can you get coronavirus from surfaces of products?

According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 may persist on the surface for a few hours and up to several days, depending on the type of surface, temperature and humidity in the environment.

Having said that, it is much less likely to catch COVID-19 this way as compared to standing next to an infected person and contacting their droplets containing COVID-19 viruses.

In case that there are viruses on the surfaces of the fruits and vegetables that you pick up, you can take these precautions.

  1. Try not to touch too many things in the supermarket.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water upon leaving the supermarket or use a hand sanitizer that has >70% ethanol.
  3. Don’t touch your face in the supermarket before you wash your hands.
  4. Wash fresh produce in running water before consumption. You could even add a little bit of detergent to be on the safe side.

Do you need to wear gloves and masks?

Gloves and masks are only helpful when you use them properly. Obviously, if you touch a surface infected with COVID-19 viruses with your gloves and then touch your face, it defeats the whole purpose of gloves.

In fact, gloves may make you pay less attention to the other measures that really matter (such as hand washing) due to a false sense of safety. Therefore, you are most likely better off not relying on gloves at all and just stick to hand washing.

Wearing masks also requires a few disciplines for them to be effective:

  • Use clean, quality-assured medical masks instead of reusable masks.
  • Do not constantly adjust your mask and accidentally touch your face.
  • Dispose your mask after each use and do not wash or re-use.
  • Wash your hands after taking off your mask.
  • Do not ignore other preventative measures just because you are wearing a mask!

Are home deliveries safer?

Avoiding sharing airspace with people who may be infected with COVID-19 does make it safer to get home deliveries.

Again, the chance that COVID-19 viruses are lying on your deliveries are low, but you can use the same principles to prevent be on the safe side:

  1. Dispose of outer packaging outside if possible.
  2. Wash your hands when you return home.
  3. Spray any plastic bags with rubbing alcohol.
  4. Wash fresh produce as if they are picked up from the supermarket.
  5. Wash your hands before eating.

Bottom line

The bottom line is that the same few advice apply no matter what you are doing outdoors. Keep your distance and wash your hands. Even without this COVID-19 pandemic, you should be washing your fresh produce and cleaning the house regularly, so keep using basic hygiene to keep yourself safe! For more discussions, listen to the ABC Coronacast episode “How to get groceries without bringing home coronavirus”.