The Public Health Unit continues to closely monitor the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) based on the advice of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the lead Victorian agency dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. Visit the DHHS website.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that usually cause respiratory illness. They include viruses that cause the common cold and more serious illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Can the virus be transmitted through food?
Previous experience with outbreaks of illness due to MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV and other respiratory viruses (e.g. avian influenza) suggest that novel coronavirus may have been transmitted from animals to humans.
Transmission through food is unlikely and there is no evidence of this occurring with novel coronavirus to date, however investigations into how the virus spreads are continuing.
General food safety advice
Everyone should practise good hygiene when preparing and handling food.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued precautionary recommendations including advice on good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, they include:
- washing hands between handling raw and cooked foods
- thorough cooking and proper handling of meat products
- covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
- avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing
Good hygiene and sanitation are important to avoid cross contamination between raw or undercooked foods and cooked or ready to eat foods in the kitchen.
As an added precaution, if you have suspected symptoms of respiratory illness you should avoid preparing food for other people and seek medical attention.
From 16 March 2020 the Public Health Unit will be conducting inspections and site visits by appointments.