Can you get coronavirus from mail or Amazon deliveries? It's very unlikely, experts say

  • With more people staying at home and ordering from online retailers like Amazon, many are wondering if packages they receive can be contaminated with the coronavirus. Health experts say it's highly unlikely.

    With more people staying at home and ordering from online retailers like Amazon, many are wondering if packages they receive can be contaminated with the coronavirus. Health experts say it's highly unlikely. Bloomberg photo

 
 
Updated 3/31/2020 6:40 AM

With COVID-19 able to survive on some surfaces for days, are the mail, Amazon packages and even the daily newspaper safe to handle?

Officials from the United States Postal Service, UPS, FedEx and Amazon -- referencing guidance from the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- say it's highly unlikely for the novel coronavirus to contaminate cardboard or other paper-based materials.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As such, they say there's currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail or delivery services.

The infectious disease community believes that if transmission occurred through packages, there would have been immediate global spread early in the outbreak. That didn't happen, and it confirms the risk as incredibly low, an Amazon spokeswoman said.

Representatives of the delivery services, including the postal service, UPS and FedEx, cite a statement on the WHO's website: "The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low."

That's the same guidance the Daily Herald Media Group has given newspaper subscribers who have inquired about the safety of their daily newspaper.

While some studies suggest that coronaviruses may persist on surfaces for a few hours or even a few days, it varies depending on temperature or the humidity of the environment, health experts say.

"In general, 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 says on its COVID-19 website.

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"Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods."

To reduce the spread of the virus, the postal service, UPS and FedEx have temporarily suspended signature requirements for people to receive packages at their doors.

The delivery services say they've also ramped up on cleaning equipment, vehicles and other frequently-touched surfaces, like door handles and steering wheels.

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