Food and COVID-19 in India: Where Do You Stand?

Food and COVID-19 in India: Where Do You Stand? Eat to Live or Live to Eat? Pretty sure that’s what has been going on in every Indian’s mind right now in the midst of the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 that has resulted in 8,970 deaths out of the 2,19,367 cases reported worldwide. Currently, the number of cases reported positive for this virus in India is 166, reports about 3 deaths due to the same.

Food is essential for the survival of course but in the wake of this pandemic, which started because of the use and consumption of certain animal species and has been rightly termed as “A great evil to Humanity” by the WHO, each and every one of us has to be careful when it comes to what we consume now.

There have been cryptic messages and tweets about the benefits of being a vegetarian at a crucial time like this. For example:

“Shakahari bano tarah-tarah kay jeev jantu khakar corona jaise virus paidakar manav jaati ke liye khatra paida na karo [Be vegetarian. Do not create viruses like coronavirus which poses danger to humanity by having [meat of] different kinds of animals,” Anil Vij(Haryana Health Minister), who himself is a vegetarian, tweeted on Saturday.

But there is no evidence that the choice of food will make any difference in the spread of the virus. Food is certainly not the source of transmission. It may be different for people who live near abattoirs etc. But if you cook it in your home kitchen and have it, there is no problem. Well-cooked meal is never a problem.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as well as the Indian food safety regulator FSSAI has said there was no scientific evidence to prove the transmission of coronavirus from animals to humans. With rumors doing the rounds that coronavirus spreads through non-vegetarian food like eggs, chicken, mutton and seafood, Union Fisheries, Dairying, and Animal Husbandry Minister Giriraj Singh had, a few days ago, asked people not to pay attention to them.

Many social media messages also claim that Indians have higher immunity because of the type of conditions we live in and the food we consume. Realistically speaking, that’s drivel! There is no immunity against the novel coronavirus. Definitely, immunity can be improved by the consumption of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and antibacterial foods like ginger, garlic, turmeric, cloves, etc. Good food is always a sign of good health.

As the coronavirus count in India increases, food delivery services such as Swiggy and Zomato are stepping up safety measures so that consumers can still dine in. From contactless food delivery to financial support for delivery partners who may want to take sick leave, both companies have rolled out a bunch of measures.

Swiggy recently sent out an email advisory to customers, detailing the steps they are taking in the wake of coronavirus.

Steps being :

  • Delivery partners are being trained in best practices of respiratory hygiene, proper method & frequency of washing hands as well as identification of associated symptoms.
  • Delivery partners have also been advised to self-quarantine themselves for the recommended period upon noticing any symptoms.
  • Restaurant practices are being monitored

Food and COVID-19 in India: Where Do You Stand?

Although Zomato hasn’t released an official advisory on their website so far, founder Deepinder Goyal has assured customers that preventive measures are being taken. 

Zomato is keeping their delivery partners updated about the COVID-19 situation and has asked them to self-quarantine or reach out to a doctor immediately if they have any symptoms. To make sure they don’t force themselves to work, the delivery partners will be supported with financial assistance, on top of medical insurance in case they are diagnosed with COVID-19.

Customers are being encouraged to order hot food as much as they can and wash their hands before eating.

COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets of the patients when he/she coughs or sneezes. These droplets can directly be inhaled if you are standing close to the infected person or come in contact with the surfaces where the virus is already present. Therefore to be extra safe, you can opt for contactless food delivery through the “delivery instructions” featured on the respective app where you have the option of picking up your own food once it is ready.

Be prepared for the toughest situation. The latest reports suggest that the vehicles used to transport fruits and vegetables from long distances will be decreased significantly. Therefore, even though basic groceries will be available, your “local bhaiya” might not have the good quality fruits or veggies you desire. So stock up the needed staples while options are still available.

The Government has been taking efficient measures for curbing the spread of this virus and only time will tell whether India will be greatly affected by it or successful in controlling it. All you can do now is prevent it from getting to you by any means possible. This includes eating clean and hygienic food, making sure the environment you are surrounded by is conducive to your health and we know you have heard this a lot of times but it is the need of the hour: Maintain strict personal hygiene i.e. WASH YOUR HANDS!

Numbers obtained based on the statistical data given as of 19th March 2020.

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