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Coronavirus: Can Online Shoppers Contract The Virus From Packages Delivered?

by on March 13, 2020
 
The other day, I was browsing Aliexpress, filling my cart with clothes and shoes. But before I clicked “Proceed to checkout” I was hit with a sobering thought: Could Coronavirus cling to these packages? I always thought that buying stuff from China and other countries was a thrift way of saving money while buying luxury. Also, avoiding crowded shops and markets was a safer option. But was I risking having the disease delivered right to my doorstep instead? Coronavirus spreads via respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention. And it can also cling to surfaces. Softer materials, such as fabric, cottons or carpeting, are less likely to pass on the virus than frequently-touched hard surfaces, including metal door handles, poles or elevator buttons, reports Havard Health Publishing. But where do delivery boxes and packages rank?
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“Although theoretically, coronavirus can 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,” says Darshan Shah, MD, founder, and Medical Director at Next Health. “Mechanical, temperature and humidity changes would likely kill the virus before it arrives at your doorstep.” The same applies to whatever is inside the shipping box. If the person who picked up your order has the virus, there could be traces of the virus on the item itself. But Dr. Darshan Shah states that the virus can only survive for a few days on surfaces, and it’s very likely to be killed during transportation.
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(Maybe a reason to opt for regular shipping over Prime Now, for once?) Another risk could be your delivery person. If they’re carrying COVID-19, you could potentially pick it up from them, says Dr. Shah. “If they have the virus, and there are respiratory droplets transmitted to the package, it is theoretically possible to get the virus since it can survive and live on surfaces for up to nine days,” he explains. The same principle applies to persons who order meals online. If you’re paranoid about contracting COVID-19 through online shopping and ordering of food, there are precautions you can take to minimize your risk, even more, says Dr. Shah. Disinfect the parcel with an alcohol-based wipe before handling it, minimize your contact with the packaging, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water (or apply an alcohol-based sanitizer) after opening and discarding the boxes.
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Even though the risk involved is small, you can also limit what you order online this season; with fewer packages you have to unbox, the lesser the risk of you contracting the virus.

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