WHILE there is no evidence coronavirus is transmitted through food, being diligent about hygiene in the kitchen has never been more important.
Initially, animals in China were the probable source of the initial infection, however, the virus is spreading from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets that people sneeze, cough, or exhale.
That is why restaurants, pubs and clubs remain in shutdown across Newcastle and Australia.
Being vigilant and hygienic in your own kitchen is now more important than ever.
According to the World Health Organisation, coronaviruses can survive on surfaces, such as kitchen benchtops, for several days, depending on the type of material, temperature and humidity.
It is essential to keep your benchtops clean and regularly washed; detergent in hot water is a good sanitiser for bench spaces.
The viruses can be destroyed by heat (e.g. cooking), so all raw meat should be cooked.
Wash your hands in between handling raw meat and other foods.
Although the international health authority says it is improbable the coronavirus is transmitted to humans from meat in Australia, it recommends cooking meat properly and not eating any meat from diseased animals.
(As an aside, all raw meat can contain other microorganisms that cause food poisoning, so good food hygiene practices such as taking care to prevent cross contamination and cooking meats, especially mince and chicken, are recommended.)
As an added precaution, if you have suspected symptoms of respiratory illness, you should avoid preparing food for other people and seek medical attention.
Latest medical research shows coronavirus is destroyed by hot water (e.g. by dishwashers operating above 60 degrees), or by commercial sanitisers (e.g. sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, and 70 per cent ethanol).
No change in concentration or exposure times is needed.
Normal soap and warm running water is adequate for hand washing. Hand sanitisers can be used as an added measure but should not replace hand washing.
If you wear gloves while washing up, be mindful that gloves are clean and changed as necessary, and hands are washed between changes.
When it comes to nutrition, healthy eating is especially important in these times for maintaining an optimal immune system.
Keep trips to the supermarket at a minimum (and try support local greengrocers who may stock locally sourced fruit and vegetables).
Think laterally if you can't source your usual inventory of food; replace bread with corn tortillas, try instant couscous instead of rice and if fresh fruit is unavailable, substitute with frozen fruits or canned juices.
There is also an array of frozen vegetables.
There doesn't seem to be a rush on spices, so use these to "dress up" a dish and to be creative with your cooking.
These will hopefully help you keep healthy and keep costs down.
For more information on food hygiene, visit foodstandards.gov.au.