Updated February 28, 2020
As of February 28, 2020, there are approximately 83,000 cases worldwide, 53 countries.
In the United States, there are 60 confirmed cases with apparent evidence of possible community transmission associated with a case in California.
What is COVID-19?
Check out this brief video about COVID-19 from The World Health Organization (WHO) https://openwho.org/courses/introduction-to-ncov
Currently, there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted by food. However, there is evidence that COVID-19 can likely survive on surfaces for 1-2 days, and maybe up to 9 days.
Recommendations for the Food Industry
Fighting COVID-19 in the Workplace
As companies prepare, TAG encourages companies to consider the following. We'll be reviewing each of these topics on more detail over the coming days.
Review employee illness reporting policies in your company and with your employees. Understand the symptoms of COVID-19 and emphasize the importance of people staying home when they are sick or not feeling well. It will be important for companies to track and understand if there's known community transmission of the virus in areas where they operate.
Reinforce the importance of handwashing. Handwashing is a basic hygiene practice that is required in food establishments, long recommended as a regular practice for all, and of critical importance in preventing transmission and protect your employees and customers. Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
Understand that masks have limited value in protecting against coronavirus. International health organizations (WHO and US CDC) do not recommend the use of surgical masks or respirators (N95 in US or FFP3 in Europe) to protect healthy individuals against community transmission of the virus. Masks will likely be in short supply and should be reserved for health care workers and those caring for those sick with COVID-19.
Establish a relationship with your local or state health department before the outbreak expands. Reach out by phone or email and determine who you would contact if you had an employee diagnosed with COVID-19 and ask how to contact the department outside of normal business hours. Establishing this relationship now can help ensure information can be rapidly shared if something happens.
Review or start developing your Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan. The CDC has an excellent outline of things that should be considered when developing these plans and TAG will be writing more on this topic soon.
For further information and advice on the impacts of COVID-19 on the food industry and advice/insights on managing assets, use of face masks, and other practices, please subscribe to TAG's daily COVID-19 newsletter.
Find our collection of updates and resources here.
Stay safe and please contact us if you have questions.
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