Can you get coronavirus from the mail, or from packages? Should you be nervous if you’re getting mail from China, or Italy, or another country deeply affected by the coronavirus?
No, you cannot get coronavirus from the mail. Michael Merson, a dean’s special adviser at the New York University School of Global Public Health, told The Washington Post, “There’s no evidence that there’s been spread from infected mail or packages…We just don’t have any evidence that this has ever been a problem.”
It’s true that the virus can live for up to nine days, but that doesn’t take into account real-world factors like humidity or temperature, which can impact mail and packages as they travel.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reiterates the belief that you cannot get coronavirus from the mail, and you cannot get it from packages.
Here’s what you need to know:
It’s ‘Virtually Impossible’ for Coronavirus to Survive Transit on Mail or Packages, an Expert Says
Darshan Shah, MD, founder and Medical Director at Next Health, further confirms this. To Refinery 29, Shah said, “Although theoretically it’s possible for coronavirus to get onto a package at the source of delivery, it’s virtually impossible [for the virus to survive] due to the package going through harsh conditions in transit. Mechanical, temperature, and humidity changes would likely kill the virus before it arrives at your doorstep.”
With that said, you can get coronavirus from other people, so if you touch an Amazon Prime delivery person or a mail person, then you technically could get coronavirus. Shah said to Refinery 29, “If they have the virus, and there are droplets transmitted to the package, it is theoretically possible to get the virus since it can live on surfaces for up to nine days.”
If you’re still nervous about getting coronavirus from the mail, or from packages, then you can take precautions to ensure that your package is as clean as possible. You can wipe down the exterior and interior of the package with disinfectant wipes, and if the package is washable, you can wash the contents of the package with soap or dishwashing detergent.
It’s suggested by organizations like WHO and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention that you wash your hands as frequently as possible after handling objects like money. This is especially relevant if you eat food or touch your face after you’ve touched that object, since coronavirus is transmitted often from the hands to the eyes, mouth, or nose.
Above all, it’s important to keep yourself safe, and to deploy common sense measures as often as possible during the coronavirus outbreak. To LAist, Dr. Shruti Gohil, with the University of California Irvine Medical Center, offered the following advice:
“You kind of have to ask yourself that question [in the same context as] cold and flu. Do we see things like a cold and flu being transmitted through paper or envelopes? No, we don’t. If this virus had this capability of spreading so easily, through things like paper fomites, then you would expect this outbreak to be much, much, much worse than what we are seeing now. I would think this is a good piece of comforting information, [but] you still have to apply common sense. If you took a coin and you know that somebody was sick and they could have a virus on their secretions on that coin, and you get that coin — well, you might acquire the illness if you don’t clean your hands or you start touching your face right after.”