Can I Catch COVID-19 from an Imported Package?

COVID-19 is a respiratory tract illness that spreads through aerosol contact. Airborne droplets carry the virus from an infected person and remain viable in air for up to 3 hours. The chances of imported goods carrying COVID-19 are thin since the virus prefers steel and plastic more than the cardboard box that your packages are usually shipped in.

The virus is still new & scientists are yet in the learning phase. With day-to-day evolving situation, it is advised to practise hygiene and careful sanitation. However, it is safe to conclude that online orders shipped locally or internationally cannot transmit the disease. The transmission depends on various factors from ambient temperature to UV exposure and humidity etc in order for the virus to remain viable. With packages shipped from the epicenter of the disease, it is almost impossible to maintain all the factors needed for the coronavirus to survive.

 “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’s FAQ page says. 

Coronavirus survives about 3 days on surfaces made of plastic and metal- commonly found in hospitals and homes. However, on cardboard the lifespan is no more than 24 hours. Fortunately, even with overnight shipping you are less likely to contract the virus. “Overnight packages are not how this virus will transmit, and I think the concern is completely misplaced.” Says Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, Senior Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “There's no way that coronavirus could infect a package and no reason to worry”, he added.

Although the virus spreads a person-to-person, you are still vulnerable to catch it if you touch the surfaces an infected person “respiratory droplets” might have landed on. For instance touching door knobs, resting arms on the counters of a hospital, holding a pole in the bus or opening a package you ordered last week online.

Coronavirus has been declared a pandemic disease and regardless of where your packages are being shipped from, there are risks involved. Let’s not forget the fact this remains same for all your packages – be it a local food courier, a package shipped from your local clothing store or online orders shipped from the other corner of the world.

During delivery, there are innumerable personnel involved when a delivery is made to your door-step. You never know who might be the potential carrier. Always sanitize your hands and reduce social interaction as much as possible.