The internet has opened the way to online shopping – you can buy almost anything that you can think of, from almost every corner of the world. Most of the goods sold online are being manufactured in one of the main powerhouses of the global economy – China. As you know there is a new type of coronavirus outbreak that has grown into a pandemic. Since China is the epicenter of this pandemic, you might be thinking that the packaging in which the goods arrive could contain traces of the new virus?
Google the words “coronavirus and packages” and you’ll get hit with numerous results
The short answer is No!
You might be thinking – well now, can’t this deadly infection be transported through packages? Let’s say if one of the employees in the packing facility in China sneezes on the package? – experts say that this is simply not the case.
“People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus” the World Health Organization states.
“Because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” the CDC concludes in its Q&A.
“It’s not going to be transported on a box,” says Dr. Michael Ison of Northwestern University, who studies viral infections among transplant patients, who have weakened immune systems.
Coronaviruses are thought to mainly spread from human to human via respiratory droplets that are formed when a person coughs or sneezes. So far, the novel coronavirus seems to have spread only among people who were in close personal contact with each other. Although there is still a lot unknown about this particular form of coronavirus, experts know what to expect, based on experience with previous strains that have led to outbreaks of serious illness – such as SARS and MERS.
Additionally, Dr Elizabeth McGraw, director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University explained that cardboard boxes do not make a good breeding ground for viruses.
Some viruses survive for longer periods of time than others- conditions such as temperature, humidity and surface material can influence the life expectancy of viruses – this is why most viruses fall apart within hours in the natural environment.
Furthermore, there are no confirmed cases of the virus coming from handled packages.
Only human to human contact has been the cause of the outbreak as of now.
“There is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped” from China, the CDC writes on its website.
Infectious diseases expert, Dr Siouxsie Wiles, told the New Zealand Herald that those who have the virus are shedding it though their respiratory secretions.
“With every cough or sneeze, you end up releasing lots of different particles in different sizes.
“The really big ones drop very quickly on to surfaces, so if you touched a surface that had a virus and that virus was still alive and you touched your face, you can get infected that way.”
This can also happen when people cough into someone’s eyes or mouth, she added.
Dr. Wiles said that people should use hand sanitizer, wash their hands frequently, try not to touch their faces and avoid people who they think may have the virus.
She added that wearing a mask is only beneficial from those who are trying to stop the spread of the virus if they themselves are sick.
Culturally in countries like China, people wear masks not to prevent infection, but when they have a cold – to stop spreading it,” she said.
“It doesn’t stop the spread of everything. If you wear a mask, it won’t protect you from the virus [but] it will stop somebody who is coughing and sneezing from spreading the big particles that will have the virus.”
Given what the experts in their field state, there are almost no chances of you getting ill with the coronavirus from the packaging of goods that were shipped from China.
As this virus becomes a Global health hazard, it is advised that wherever you are, you wash your hands on a regular basis and keep away from people that you can see are ill and are coughing or sneezing- if you are in the affected areas. If you have orders coming in from Chinese suppliers – don’t worry, there are no chances to contract the coronavirus via packages coming from China.