With most stores closed all over the world, there has been a sharp increase in online shopping. Many people are, however, worried about ordering from China. Is it safe to receive packages from China?
The answer is YES. The risks of getting the coronavirus from a package arriving from China are practically non-existent and we’ll explain why.
The coronavirus spreads mostly through close human contact, via the droplets people send out when they cough or sneeze. You can also get infected by touching a surface where such droplets are present, but it is not as easy as you might think.
Much depends on how long can the SARS-CoV-2 survive on various surfaces. Health experts say the coronavirus can survive roughly 24 hours on cardboard, so the general advice is that shipping boxes are safe, even if they were handled by an infected worker.
Even packages coming from a local stores take longer than 24 hours to arrive, especially now that they are swamped with orders. A package coming from China takes a few days at the very least, if not weeks.
And the items in your packages are probably just as safe. Here’s a look at how long coronaviruses generally survive on various surfaces:
- Metal: silverware, jewelry – 5 days
- Plastic: containers for personal care products, toys – 2 to 3 days
- Copper: cookware, kettles – 4 hours
- Aluminum: cans, tinfoil, water bottles – 2 to 8 hours
- Glass: cups, drinking glasses, mirrors – 5 days
- Paper: This is trickier as some strains of coronvirus die away in minutes, whereas others can survive for up to 5 days
- Fabric: There is no definitive answer on that one, but experts believe the virus can live longer on hard surfaces than on softer ones, such as clothes. Best we can say: a few hours up to a couple of days.
While it is too early to say we know everything about how SARS-CoV-2 behaves, we can look at past epidemics to get an idea. Health experts point out there is no known example of people becoming infected through opening a package during any recent epidemic, such as the SARS one in 2002-2004 or the MERS in 2012, both caused by coronaviruses.
Chances are that even if someone sneezed all over your package in a warehouse far away in China, any virus on the box is long dead by the time it gets to your door. Additionally, Chinese authorities say they are taking things seriously and disinfect all post offices, processing centers and vehicles as a health precaution.
One thing you should keep in mind, though, is the possibility of your package being handled by an infected person in your area during delivery. Again, the risks are very low for you to get infected by opening the box.
Contamination through surface contact implies you touching the exact spot where droplets might have fallen, then touching your nose, mouth or eyes. By adhering to standard hygiene practice and washing your hands properly after opening and disposing of the cardboard box you will be safe.
Of course, out of an abundance of caution you can swipe the box with disinfectant, but there is no need to freak out!