The new coronavirus is making headlines daily! – and with it more and more cases. The general population is wondering just how safe is it to receive packages that were ordered online? We’ve also covered in one of our previous articles the possibility of getting coronavirus from packages that are arriving from China.
Thanks to the development of warehousing and infrastructure, we receive packages faster than ever before. With same day and next day delivery available, it is easier for an organism to travel from one host to the other.
With the widespread rumours about the new coronavirus, touching any unclean surface is potentially dangerous. Your hands might pick up the new virus and risk of infection is greater. Especially if you touch your face with that infected finger.
You might have lots of questions regarding how this new virus can spread and what measures can we take to protect ourselves from this new threat.
Let’s start with how long can the virus survive outside the body
If you were hoping that it can only survive a couple of minutes….we have some bad news for you. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus can survive hours or even days!
A preliminary study published this week found that the virus can survive in the air for up to three hours after being aerosolized, up to four hours on copper and up to 24 hours on cardboard.
The problem really starts when it comes to plastic and stainless steel on which the new coronavirus can survive up to three days – another good reason to get rid of plastic packaging!
This new study was conducted by scientists at the National Institute of Health, Princeton University, the University of California and the CDC.
There were some studies that were published previously that indicated that coronaviruses, in general, can last up to nine days on surfaces – depending on the type of surface, humidity, and heat.
So far, there hasn’t been a documented case of a person getting infected from a surface contaminated with the new coronavirus – according to the CDC.
People usually get infected if they come in direct contact with respiratory droplets produced when a nearby infected person coughs or sneezes.
How does this compare to other diseases?
According to the CDC, the flu virus can stay active on some surfaces for up to 48 hours, the Ebola virus can survive on plastic surfaces and metals for several hours, and the norovirus can survive up to four weeks on surfaces and some bacteria can live much longer.
What affects the longevity of coronavirus on surfaces?
It really depends on several factors, sunlight, humidity, heat, but the most important factor is sunlight. Nothing kills bacteria and viruses faster than ultraviolet light. Higher heat and humidity, on the other hand, will help these organisms to stay active longer.
What types of surfaces are most prone to carry the virus?
As a general rule, the more porous the surface, the more of the virus you will get on your hands when handling that object. Up to 70% of the viruses will stick to your finger if you touch stainless steel compared to only 1% when touching a cloth surface.
Though this article is addressing packages. There is another more obvious culprit for harbouring germs and that is money. Money is one of the dirtiest things in our society. Paper money is made out of cotton, which is an absorbable surface that can get wet. The new coronavirus can potentially stay active on it for up to nine days – just like on other surfaces.
What cleaning products can I use to clean packages from viruses?
Commonly found household cleaning solutions with either bleach or alcohol as their active element can kill off bacteria and viruses.
Coronaviruses are fairly sensitive to almost all disinfectants, including bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and quaternary ammonium compounds. The use of disinfecting wipes is also recommended because then you will use the right dose of disinfectant.
After unboxing the package as a precautionary measure sing two verses of “Happy Birthday “whilst washing your hands to lower the risk of getting the virus.
Now we know the coronavirus can survive on inanimate objects for longer periods of time than the experts had originally thought, it is essential that you give more importance to hygiene. That said the chances of contracting the new virus from packages or mail are low but nonetheless it is advised to sanitize various surfaces and your wash hands during any contact in these unprecedented times.