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Punjab Government issues advisory on maintaining and ensuring the safety of food & other essential household items

Maintaining and ensuring the safety of food & other essential household items

The Punjab Government today issued the advisory on maintaining and ensuring the safety of food and other essential household items during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Giving details, an official spokesman of Health and Family Welfare department said here today that the Punjab Government has imposed severe restrictions on free movement of people in the larger public interest of controlling the spread/transmission of Corona virus.

In the general advisory the Punjab Government directs the shop-owner, delivery staff and customers to wear cloth masks at all the times. The mask should also be worn even if the purchase of groceries or collection of an order takes a fraction of time. The masks shall be worn in a manner that it snuggly covers the nose as well as the mouth. The cloth mask should be washed with soap and water daily after use. The spokes man further said that the customers are advised not to indulge in any handshakes/hugs even with a known acquaintance. Similarly, the shop-owners/delivery staff should not handshake/hug amongst themselves or with anyone else. All are advised to follow strict social distancing measures and maintain a minimum distance of 1 metre amongst them at all times.The customers and delivery staff are advised to strictly adhere to the social distancing circles or markings laid down by the shopkeepers outside their shop. All should wait patiently for their turn and avoid crowding at all costs he added.

He said that all the shop-owners, customers and delivery staff should meticulously wash their hands using the foot-operated hand washing stations, if available. Wash the hands is necessary with soap for at least 40 seconds by applying the soap gently on the palm and back of the hand including web spaces between the fingers and space between the finger and the thumb and the wrist wherever and whenever the opportunity to wash the hands is available. However, a two-hourly hand wash is recommended.

All the customers and delivery staff is advised to sanitise their hands with the sanitizer bottles mounted at the entry point of the shop premises. Alcohol-based sanitizer (minimum 70% ethyl alcohol v/v) should be mounted at the entrance wall of the shops for the shopkeeper and his/her workers as well as the customers to sanitize their hands before entering the premises further. The sanitizers are to be refilled/replaced frequently. Use a minimum of 3 ml of the sanitizer (approximately 2 pushes of sanitizer dispenser) on DRY HANDS for at least 30 seconds for good hygienic hand disinfection.

The shop-owners, customers and the delivery staff should not smoke or chew tobacco- based products such as gutka, pan masala etc. in the shop/marketplaces. In case of a cough/sneeze, the shopkeeper/customers/delivery staff should use the handkerchief to cover the face which shall then be kept in his/her own pocket/purse in a manner that the surface of the handkerchief exposed to the cough/sneeze shall not touch the other parts of the belongings directly. In either case, the shopkeeper/customers/delivery staff should immediately hand wash with soap in the manner prescribed his hands/other exposed surfaces to cough/sneeze.The shopkeeper/customers/delivery staff should refrain from touching face, mouth, nose and eyes with his hands at all times.

The Spokesman further said that the shopkeeper/customers/delivery staff should avoid all type of gatherings like social, religious, political etc.The customers should preferably pay through digital means. The shopkeeper/his workers as well the customer shall sanitize their hands immediately before or after cash transactions, if it is so. The shopkeeper/customers/delivery staff should not indulge in gossip/rumours with regard to COVID-19 without verifying the facts. All are encouraged to download  “COVA APP” developed by the Government of Punjab for the correct, timely and authentic information.

In Specific Advisory for the consumers/customers, the Punjab Government advised to the consumers to carry cloth bags while going out to buy the essentials. The cloth bag should be washed thoroughly with soap and water immediately after use. Consumers are  also advised to wash all the products/goods with warm soda water and then wipe them with a clean cloth. He said that consumers should Wash all food items thoroughly with clean, potable water and use 50 ppm chlorine with clean, potable water for fruits and vegetables to be consumed raw. The consumers are advised not to keep any spoiled food in the refrigerators and asked to clean their refrigerators regularly thoroughly inside out.

The Spokesman divulged that the consumers are encouraged to use digital payment methods as a precautionary measure while receiving any delivered grocery or food items.They are also advised not to leave any cooked/ready-to-eat food items in open asked to keep all their food items in containers with built-in lids.

In a Specific Advisory for the food handlers, the Punjab Government asked them to wear a clean uniform, gloves, cloth masks/face cover, and head covers at all times. The lockers, if any, for keeping the personal belongings should not be shared. Food handlers should frequently wash their hands with soap and water. They should wear gloves while handling/preparing food and should avoid wearing jewellery, watches etc. within the food premises. They are directed  to clean and disinfect the food service area after every meal is prepared.

He said that hand-washing facility should be available, preferably, at the entry gate of the retail premises to assist the delivery staff or the customer (in case of a pick-up) to wash their hands thoroughly. Ensure availability of soap at all times and social distancing of at least 1 meter for the persons waiting for their turn to hand-wash.

In Specific Advisory for Food Delivery staff Punjab Government also directed the food delivery staff to use a clean cloth mask at all times, including at the time of pick-up and delivery of food, in the manner prescribed. The cloth mask should be washed with soap and water daily after use. The food delivery staff should use a hand sanitizer in the manner prescribed before pick- up and after delivery.

As per advisory, Punjab government has asked all the retail outlets, shops, canteens etc. for adequate facilities for cross- ventilation in the premises. Exhaust fans should be installed in the premises.

He added that in case food handler/delivery staffer is diagnosed with COVID-19 with whom one had a contact during the journey/waiting time etc, there shall not be panic. One should report to the Helpline No. 104/State Control Room No. 01722920074/08872090029, detailing the exact nature of exposure so as to assist the medical facility to undertake further necessary actions.

He said that the employer in case a worker is diagnosed as corona positive and such a worker has attended the shift shall immediately inform the Helpline No. 104/State Control Room No. 01722920074/+91-8872090029 along with all the facts about the worker and the contacts he might have during the shift. The employer shall therefore maintain a complete and proper record of all workers on any particular day.

In the General guidelines the shopkeepers are asked to meticulously follow the guidelines issued by the Government with regard to the nature of the shops that have been allowed to operate and to comply with the Standard operating procedure laid down in these guidelines as far as operating the shop is concerned. The Shopkeepers associations are also advised to install foot-operated Hand-washing Stations for the benefit of Shopkeepers/their workers and visiting customers. However, the social distancing norm of maintaining a distance of at least 1 meter shall be followed while washing the hands by drawing marking circles in front of such Hand-washing Stations.

In an Advisories regarding the use of Air-conditioning it is directed that Recirculation of cool air by Room Air Conditioners must be accompanied by outdoor air intake through slightly open windows and exhaust by natural exfiltration. The room temperature should be set between 24-27 degrees Celsius and the relative humidity should be maintained between 40% -70%. He said that the Air conditioners should be serviced often so as to keep the filtersclean.

Exhaust fans can be installed in the rooms containing a large number of people so as to create a negative pressure in the room and ensure the entry of fresh air in the premises. The circulated air inside the room should be vented out frequently. He said that the evaporative air coolers must be cleaned and disinfected at regular intervals. The water tank should be emptied and then wiped gently with a soft cloth, sponge and warm water to eliminate moldy residue that may have built up since the previous cleaning. The tank can also be washed with mild soapy water and then flushed out with cleanwater. Fans should be operated with windows kept partly open.

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