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What is the Coronavirus and How Can I Prevent It?

Editorial Team March 26, 2020 Comments Off on What is the Coronavirus and How Can I Prevent It?
What is the Coronavirus and How Can I Prevent It?

Right now, the entire world is preoccupied with the coronavirus. And with over 400,000 infections and 12,000 deaths from the virus in the United States alone, it’s easy to understand why.

Coronavirus Tracker (United States) – 4/8/2020

Cases: 404,056
Deaths: 12,988
Recoveries: 21,815

While there is no cure, there are definitely methods of prevention. Consider this your guide to the coronavirus. We will take a deep dive into the virus to ensure you’re better equipped to protect yourself and your community.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a large group of virus strains that cause everything from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The specific virus that currently has everyone concerned is SARS-CoV-2. It causes an acute respiratory illness, also known as the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus, which makes it all the more concerning. Because of the intense illness it causes, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international health.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they’re spread from animals to humans. SARS-CoV-2 was believed to have been transmitted from bats to humans and was first found in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Coronavirus Symptoms

As we mentioned above, the virus that’s concerning us all now is COVID-19. Those with the disease may experience fevers, coughing, and shortness of breath. Of course, just because you experience these symptoms doesn’t mean that you have COVID-19. You could have a cold, the flu, or a variety of other illnesses.

To confirm if your symptoms are caused by SARS-CoV-2, you’ll need to get a coronavirus test from the CDC or your local health department. They will test for the virus by collecting a sample from the throat, nose, or lungs, which will provide an immediate diagnosis.

Risk Factors

Communities with current cases of COVID-19 are at a higher risk. Additionally, so is anyone who:

  • Works in healthcare
  • Recently traveled internationally
  • Has been in close contact with a person with COVID-19

How Does the Coronavirus Spread?

Coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, originate in bats, cattle, cats, and camels, and are spread from animals to humans. The CDC assumes COVID-19 originated in an animal reservoir in China, which then spread to humans via a seafood and live animal market.

However, after these initial instances, the disease is assumed to have spread from person-to-person, as later cases were not exposed to animals. COVID-19 is now mostly spreading through ‘community-spread’ transference, meaning it’s primarily unknown how these people were affected.

How to Prevent Coronavirus in Your Restaurant

As we know, viruses are not only passed from person-to-person, but they can also be passed through food. With COVID-19, restaurants and restaurant staff are at risk of unknowingly passing on the virus to customers. This extra attention on COVID-19 emphasizes the need to implement the same strategies used to prevent any foodborne pathogens.

Hand Washing

Hand washing is the most effective tactic you can use to prevent the spread of viruses and diseases. With COVID-19 active in the United States, there is no excuse not to follow hand washing best practices. Ensure that you’re washing your hands before you handle food, after touching raw meat, and after touching other people. Use warm water, soap, and agitate your hands for at least 20 seconds.

Social Distancing

Social distancing is designed to reduce the spread of a virus, like the Coronavirus. In this case, the CDC defines social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”

In a restaurant setting, you can practice social distancing in several ways:

  • Remove tables and seating so that there is at least 6 feet of space between customers
  • Shut down your dining room and move to pick up, curbside, and delivery orders only
  • Send home any workers that are displaying symptoms of being sick
  • Limit your hours of operation and reduce the number of staff members onsite

Cooking Temperature

Cooking meat, seafood, and poultry to safe internal temperatures are always important. Still, with SARS-CoV-2 spreading by way of animals, it’s never been more imperative. Follow these internal cooking temperature guidelines:

  • Ground Beef: 160℉
  • Ground Poultry: 165℉
  • Beef, Pork, and Lamb: 145℉
  • Poultry: 164℉
  • Cross-Contamination

There is always a concern about foodborne pathogens present in uncooked or undercooked meat. To prevent these pathogens from spreading, you must avoid cross-contamination. Use new or clean knives and cutting boards when you’re switching from preparing raw meat to cooked meat, or fresh food. Also, raw meat should be securely packaged when stored to prevent any meat juices from leaking. Finally, any surface that’s touched by raw meat should be cleaned with a kitchen-safe solution.

Cleaning and Sanitization

Cleaning and sanitizing your home, classroom, and office is effective in preventing the spread of illness. The same is true for cleaning and sanitizing in a restaurant. Not only do you need to wipe down tables after each customer, but your kitchen cleanliness should also be a priority.

Ensure that you’re using a kitchen-safe, but effective cleaning solution—usually a diluted version of bleach—to kill bacteria and viruses. You should regularly clean everything, but countertops and food prep areas deserve extra attention, especially after being in contact with raw meat.

Food Safety Training

Food safety goes so much more in-depth than what we’re able to cover in this blog post. To ensure you have a full picture of how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and all viruses in your restaurant, sign up for a food handler training course.

How to Treat the Coronavirus

While there is no widely available vaccine for COVID-19, there have been attempts to treat the disease using other methods, including Gilead Sciences, Moderna Therapeutics, and CurVac. Because there is no widespread cure, your best tactic is prevention.

Where Can I Find More Information on the Coronavirus?

Still have questions about the Coronavirus? Visit the CDC website and the World Health Organization’s site for more information. 360training also offers a Free COVID-19 Awareness course. Enroll today!

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