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Coronavirus: Food safety and car boot sales, how worried should we be?

DJs,Taxi drivers and people who lost their jobs when coronavirus hit Kenya sell vegetables, fruits and rice from their car boots on May 18, 2020. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Desperate times call for desperate measures. What do you do when the bills pile up and the landlord/lady comes knocking? For the sake of maintaining their sanity and supplementing their income, many of those Kenyans who think of themselves as middle class took up the fresh groceries business from the boots of their cars. They are cheaper, more flexible and faster alternatives to actually setting up shop and dealing with the highly restrictive bottleneck that is the Nairobi business environment.

A robust and diverse food supply is an essential part of the health and nutrition response to Covid-19, as a healthy immune system is needed to ward off the virus, in the event that one gets infected. Most people have shunned both local and major food outlets in fear of contracting the virus, and have taken a hyperactive campaign to thoroughly wash and disinfect when handling fresh produce.

The body responsible for universal health coverage, World Health Organisation, maintains that there is currently no evidence that people can catch Covid-19 from food or food packaging. The disease is a respiratory illness and the transmission route is through person-to-person contact and through direct contact with respiratory droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Furthermore, the strain of viruses that Covid-19 is from, need a live animal or human host to multiply and survive. The virus lives for a very short period outside a living body. So, if your local grocer follows good personal and food hygiene practices, do not shy away from purchase. After accepting food/grocery deliveries, wash your hands for twenty seconds with soap and water.

Small businesses, especially in a developing country such as Kenya, keep economies afloat. It’s not the people in a boardroom who is essential to our overall wellbeing; rather, it’s the ‘mama mboga’. Eighty per cent of consumer goods are sold out of kiosks and informal markets rather than the money laundering fronts.

These small businesses mostly sell essential goods and are the number one income earner for women and the youth, the true pillars of society, without which, our country has no future.

At the end of the day, you are more likely to contract the virus in the enclosed supermarket rather than the open market which has a free flow of air. So support our essential workers how you can. Carry a small bottle of sanitizer with you and wear a mask, for it’s your patriotic duty to keep our economy afloat.


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