Coronaviruses are a virus family that causes respiratory illness. The family includes viruses causing seasonal flu, common cold, and more severe diseases like MERS and SARS. 2019 coronavirus is referred to as the novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain. It is the type that has not been in human beings before the outbreak.
Can coronavirus spread through sharing food?
The question arises because the report by healthy Chinese authorities in December 2019 is that many people who contracted coronavirus had contact with seafood and the Wuhan animal market. Coronaviruses are zoonoses meaning that they infect particular animals and spread from an animal to another. The coronavirus spreading among animals can also infect humans when the virus develops certain mutations. It means that animal products are more likely to have Coronaviruses as they need a host in an animal or human to grow. However, it cannot grow in foods.
Recent remarks by Singapore Food Agency are that there is no evidence to show novel coronavirus has any association with consuming food. However, you need to take precautions to minimize the chances of contracting coronavirus through food, whether shared or not. Coronavirus can spread through food in these situations.
Preparation by a person with coronavirus symptoms
Someone with symptoms of coronavirus might have the infection even if the disease is at the incubation stage. Such a person can pass the virus to others when preparing, serving, or sharing food due to non-observance of hygiene when handling. Cough droplets on the hands can cause the spread of coronavirus. Any food you eat should be after ensuring that the person handling or sharing food washes the hands before touching it.
What if the droplets of an infected person fall onto food after washing hands? It will cause a risk of infection for people who consume the food, but the chances of infection are low. The reason is that coronavirus infects cells along the respiratory tract but not in other body tissues like intestinal cells.
Buffets can increase the transmission of coronavirus due to the communal environment. Diners during a buffet share ladles and also stand at proximity as they serve. Both increase the chances of transmission.
Someone who coughs on to a hand then touches a spoon, or any utensil can contaminate it with coronavirus if infected. It is the same scenario if someone touches surfaces that a person with coronavirus had touched before then proceeds to touch a ladle at a buffet. All those who touch after can get into contact with nCoV.
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The virus can survive on a surface for an hour, so it puts the people who touch the ladle a long moment after the infected person at risk of picking coronavirus. The risk increases when people are in a large group, and everyone engages in self-serving.
Sharing Of Utensils
Sharing household items like glasses, cups, plates, spoons, and other utensils can cause infection. Droplets of body fluid like saliva disperse onto the surface of the utensil and can infect the person who uses the item after that without cleaning. The virus can survive for a moment outside the host. You can contract it even if you do not use a utensil soon after another person does it.
Saliva can have a high viral load according to a study on specimens. A viral culture for 2019-nCoV saliva specimens detected the virus in 11 samples from the 12 patients in the study. A viral culture found live viruses in the saliva of three patients, so sharing utensils and food can cause prompt spreading of Coronaviruses by saliva.
Food can be a carrier of coronavirus if body fluids find a way in. People should wash their hands properly with water and soap or sanitizer before handling food. It is also safe to heat food above 600C. Heat at this level destroys the coronavirus infection to eliminate infection ability.