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The Government announced the UK has recorded 6,634 new cases of COVID-19 – the highest daily figure since mass testing began. The latest surge comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled plans aimed at stopping mass job cuts over the winter months, days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed further restrictions to help curb the spread, including a 10pm curfew for all pubs, restaurants and bars. But as ministers, including Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, fail to rule out the possibility of a second lockdown, the “danger zone” of British supermarkets has been identified.
During the BBC’s ‘Keeping Britain Fed’ documentary, presenter Ade Adepitan investigated the risks associated with stepping foot inside shops.
He said: “Clearly the supermarkets are trying hard to make their stores as safe as possible for customers and protect their staff on the front line.
“But just how big a risk is a shopping trip?
“I’ve arranged to have a chat with Professor Sally Bloomfield from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to get the lowdown on safe shopping.”
Prof Bloomfield told the series: “I think the dangers are people – you get it either by breathing it in or touching surfaces then touching your mouth, or eyes, or nose.
“It’s well-known from experiments that we can do that up to 23 times an hour.
“There is the possibility that, within one millilitre of saliva, we could have seven million virus particles, and it only needs maybe 100 to 1,000 to infect us.
“So, one of the key things we have to do in supermarkets is really respect that two-metre rule.”
Mr Adepitan then asked the expert where she thought the “danger zones” were in supermarkets.
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Prof Bloomfield responded: “I would say probably the riskiest place is the checkout.
“Now, I would avoid cash if I can, so I would use Chip and Pin.
“What I do is take out my car keys and use the tip of it to put the numbers in and that way, it’s all done safely.”
Prof Bloomfield suggested online shopping is probably safer, adding that everyone needs to do their bit to avoid a second lockdown.
She continued: “The risk from online shopping is small.
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“I take out any of the dried goods that are not going to be used immediately and quarantine them for three days.
“Any fresh goods, I put under cold running water and then rub it with my hands to dislodge any organisms, then rinse it again.
“The thing to do is not to panic, the likelihood of you becoming infected is very small, but if we all adhere to these rules as far as we can, that will save us having to go back into lockdown.”
The first few weeks of the coronavirus lockdown saw sales at Tesco boosted by 30 percent, but the retailer fears the impact of the pandemic could cost them as much as £925million.
Britain’s biggest supermarket said “significant panic buying cleared the supply chain of certain items” but this has now stabilised and normal sales have resumed.
The products with the biggest uplift in sales across all UK supermarkets were tinned tomatoes, baked beans, toilet roll, pasta and liquid soap.
Tesco, like others, has made significant investment since then and is now in a stronger position to deal with the surge in demand should there be a second lockdown.
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