FIT WebQoof: Are Vegetarians Safe from the Coronavirus?
A card being circulated on social media claims that COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has not been observed in a single vegetarian person.
“There hasn’t been a single confirmed patient of COVID-19 who is a vegetarian”, it says. This information has been attributed to the World Health Organisation.
True or False
No report by the WHO has any mention of such a claim. Dr Sumit Ray, critical care specialist at Artemis Hospitals, told FIT that being vegetarian or non-vegetarian is inconsequential, and not a criterion the WHO has based its tests on.
The novel coronavirus was first encountered in a seafood market in China’s Wuhan, but there is still uncertainty about the actual source of the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.
“Possible animal sources of COVID-19 have not yet been confirmed,” the WHO said.
The World Health Organisation on Meat
The organisation came up with general advice on visiting live animal markets and meat consumption. Most importantly, it does not mention completely avoiding non-vegetarian food, but instead cautions against eating ‘raw’ or ‘undercooked animal products’. There is no risk in consuming ‘thoroughly cooked’ meat, poultry, fish and eggs.
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided.
- Raw meat, milk, or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
- Anyone visiting live animal markets, wet markets, or animal product markets should practice general hygiene measures, including regular handwashing with soap and water after touching animals and animal products, avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands, and avoiding contact with sick animals or spoiled animal products.
“Ensure good food safety practices at all times,” it said.
In fact, India’s Health Ministry also debunked this claim, in its objective of busting COVID-19 related myths.
How Does the Virus Spread?
Human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
According to the WHO, the disease can spread from one person to another through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when an infected person coughs or exhales. If another person breathes in these droplets, he/she can get the disease. These droplets can also land on objects and surfaces around the person and others can catch the infection by touching these surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose and mouth.
This is why maintaining social distance, self-quarantine and self-isolation are being repeatedly stressed about to reduce transmission and ‘flatten the curve’.
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