Updated: Jan 31
Recently, a pizza delivery boy in Delhi has tested positive for coronavirus. After the results, authorities have put almost 75 people in South Delhi under home-quarantine.
There are high chances that the delivery person was over-loaded with many orders and deliveries done for the day. Why? Because in this situation, there is a fear of losing the job and there is also the job hazard of inconsistency in the flow of daily income. Loss of income would directly affect the food access and availability levels for the person delivering. The COVID-19 Pandemic has severely afflicted a lot of people, especially those who rely, get paid on hourly work-basis. Other businesses adversely impacted are cloud kitchens, the mobile delivery apps, kiosks, takeaways, and small scale restaurants who also depended on delivery fleets.
Here are the possible reasons for what could have gone wrong:-
Firstly, I wouldn’t encourage any such deliveries in this situation. Avoid contact with more than 5–6 people per day. Prevention is better than cure. While ordering something online, we are involving a lot of people during this process right from the personnel in the kitchen to the delivery agent. But, if you cannot restrain from ordering food you have to know the risks it entails.
The food delivery fleet possess a higher risk of coming in contact with several surfaces and humans before delivering the food than you. He/she must be wearing the necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipments), but he/she must have crossed someone who sneezed or came in indirect contact with him without his knowledge. So there are higher chances of contamination through this.
Insufficient provision of the PPE’s. Probably he was reusing them because of lack of provision?
Lack of knowledge of the importance of good hygiene.
He must have been handling a lot of other deliveries too, not necessarily food which in fact might carry less pathogens than other delivery products.
There is no sanitation and disinfection procedures followed on his bike and self-care.
He must have come in contact with something which dirty and already handled by many others before him.
His symptoms were not initially notified to his Manager/Employer.
Higher chances of him using a public toilet and well, not washing his hands thoroughly. It could be also because the toilet was not clean enough to wash his hands or maybe there was no hand wash provision.
There could’ve been chances that he handled hot-cash and passed on to someone who was the carrier?
FSSAI has recently shared guidelines for Food Businesses during COVID-19 Pandemic and here are some of the steps which has been highlighted by them.
Food Establishments must ensure the following:-
All the staff members, including the housekeeping staff and delivering agents, be trained about the COVID-19 infection symptoms, sources, and its prevention by following high hygiene standard, cleaning and sanitation, and social distancing.
To implement social distancing, limit the no of people coming in contact with the food processing area by creating some physical barriers- allowing just 3–4 people per 10 sq feet of the area of the restaurant. There must be a 1-meter distance of every person.
All the foods shall be thoroughly washed, cleaned, and sanitized. Fruits and vegetables (for salads or raw consumption) shall be washed in 50 PPM chlorine and clean potable water before storage.
Limit the number of people (drivers, delivery agents, suppliers, housekeeping staff) who can come in contact with the food premises at any one time.
Food establishment must ensure that the food service area must be sanitized after every meal prepared and disinfect surfaces touched by employees such as doorknobs, equipment handles, elevators, grocery carts, etc.
Provision of Handwash station and sanitizers to be made available at all times.
Provision of gloves and the knowledge of proper usage of gloves to be imparted. Wearing gloves must not stop them from following hand washing. Gloves can also be one of the major carriers of germs.
Employees shall wear clean uniforms and PPE at all times. The pre-screening of workers for COVID-19 must be followed. Individuals showing any such symptoms must be sent for health evaluation and must not be allowed to go home.
Food establishments must prepare for fewer customers and make plans for take-out and delivery options, which will work with available staff and supply resources. Use social media to communicate.
No ready-to-eat food shall be left open and displayed in glass displays. Use gloves to use bare direct contact with ready-to-eat foods.
For food deliveries, prefer leaving the food packets outside the door and maintain a gap of 1 meter from the customer.
Food delivery Agents must ensure the following:-
The food delivery agent must ensure that his face is covered with a clean mask, hand sanitized before food pickup, and after delivery.
Food delivery person shall avoid taking elevators as there are high chances of contamination through this. He/she shall avoid contact with common points such as switchboards, doorbells, handles, staircase handle, etc. If unavoidable, must ensure that hands sanitized immediately. Contactless deliveries be encouraged.
Agents must refrain from handling cash. In case if the customer pays by cash, the agent must ensure to sanitize their hands.
The vehicle shall be cleaned and sanitized, if possible, disinfected regularly.
If showing any symptoms, the agent must refrain from his duties immediately.
To avoid using public toilets as much as possible.
delivery agents must ensure not to leave their vehicles during deliveries and shall refrain from stopping for tea breaks in between.
If a vehicle enters an area marked as COVID-19 hotspot, then the vehicle shall be thoroughly washed, cleaned, and disinfected before the next use.