Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Covid can survive on some surfaces for ‘up to 72 hours’

Covid can survive on some surfaces for ‘up to 72 hours’

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Frozen meats at a supermarket in Phnom Penh on Sunday. Hong Menea

Covid can survive on some surfaces for ‘up to 72 hours’

Research has shown that Covid-19 can survive for a period of time on frozen food but it cannot replicate in chilled products, the Ministry of Health said on July 24. In light of this, the ministry has requested health protection measures regarding fresh and frozen food in the context of Covid-19.

Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine asked the public to prepare and store food with the virus in mind to avoid health problems from Covid-19, but also to avoid issues like food poisoning.

She said that the problem was handling food and cleaning it using water contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals.

“Certain studies showed that Covid-19 can survive on frozen food, though the virus could not contaminate the food. In this sense, the Ministry of Health would like to inform the public that if they practice food hygiene measures, individuals will not get Covid-19 from food,” she said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Covid-19 is an infectious respiratory disease that is transmitted from one human to another by inhaling saliva droplets or mucus from an infected person when they cough or sneeze in close proximity. Infections can also occur when a person touches a surface contaminated with Covid-19 and then touches their face.

Vandine added that research had determined that Covid-19 could survive for up to 72 hours on plastic, four hours on stainless steel and copper and about 24 hours on cartons.

“Consumers have to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly with clean water before consumption. People must pay attention to personal hygiene at all times, especially around places with frozen and fresh food. They have to wash their hands after handling food,” she said.

WHO advised individuals who feel unwell to stay at home. People who work in the food sector need to be able to identify Covid symptoms such as a high temperature, coughing and exhaustion. If they have symptoms, they need to contact the hotline at 115 or seek medical assistance and take a rapid test or a nasal and throat swab PCR test.

Health minister Mam Bun Heng asked all people to cooperate in promoting food safety to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and to wash their hands frequently with soap or hand-based alcohol or gel before and after handling food.

“Raw and cooked food should be separated and cook food thoroughly – especially poultry, eggs, seafood and frozen food – to avoid possible infection. Do not keep food for too many days, even if it has been kept at a safe temperature and cleaned properly,” he said.

He stated that if food is refrigerated, it must be kept below five degrees Celsius. If food is kept in a warming bin, the temperature must be kept above 60 degrees Celsius.

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