Belief: I can contract COVID-19 via mail and other imported goods.
Reality: While it is possible, it is very unlikely.
Currently, scientists believe COVID-19 is mainly spread through respiratory droplets. However, it is possible for someone to become infected by touching an infected surface and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is hard for COVID-19 to survive on packages during transit due to its environment, duration, and surface.
“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 low,” said Matthew O’Connor, a spokesman for FedEx, in a statement.
According to a recent paper published by the New England Journal of Medicine, SARS-CoV-2 can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard. On plastic and stainless steel, it was still viable up to 72 hours after initial contact.
Through the USPS, First Class International Mail usually takes 7-21 days before reaching its destination. Due to this and the low survivability of COVID-19 on surfaces for an extended period, most of the virus will not be viable on arrival.
While contracting COVID-19 via mail is unlikely, experts still recommend washing hands and disinfecting surfaces after handling packages.