Is it safe to cook for people I don’t live with during the coronavirus lockdown?

Millions of Canadians have been holed up at home for weeks now, practising physical distancing in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. As a result, more than half say they feel lonely and isolated.

People are trying all kinds of ways of staying socially connected, from video calls with friends to “driveway parties” with neighbours.

Now, some are cooking and baking for friends and family, leaving treats at people’s doors as a way of caring for others during this difficult time — but could this spread the virus?

However, that doesn’t mean you can forgo sanitation and hygiene procedures when cooking.

“People should be paying attention to sanitation and cooking procedures they normally would in non-pandemic times,” Farber said.

Cooking hygiene and sanitation

A study published in March determined the new coronavirus can live in the air for several hours and on some surfaces for as long as two to three days.

For this study, researchers used a nebulizer device to put samples of the virus into the air, imitating what might happen if an infected person coughed or made the virus airborne some other way.

They found that viable virus could be detected up to three hours later in the air, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

“We do know that the coronavirus can survive on plastic for up to 72 hours,” Dr. Jeff Kwong, professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, previously told Global News.

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For this reason, practising good hygiene in the kitchen is more important than ever — especially if what you’re cooking is intended to go to another household.

“This means washing your hands well before you prepare foods and keeping your cooking space clean,” Farber said.

If you’re the person receiving the food and you’re considered “high-risk” for contracting the virus, Farber says it’s smart to disinfect the container the food came in and any surfaces the container may touch in your home.

“Let’s say you place the food on your kitchen counter,” he said. “After you put the food away into the fridge or the cupboard, use disinfecting wipes to wipe down the surface the containers touch.”

After this, be sure to wash your hands.

“The risk I’m talking about here is very low, but it’s still good to reduce the risk as much as possible,” Farber said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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