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How long does the coronavirus live on different surfaces?

PUBLISHED: 07:30 27 March 2020

The World Health Organisation said the chances of contracting coronavirus from packages delivered in the post is low  Picture: STEVE PARSONS/PA

The World Health Organisation said the chances of contracting coronavirus from packages delivered in the post is low Picture: STEVE PARSONS/PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Households across the country are improving their cleaning regimes in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus – but how long can it live on surfaces?

Research from The New England Journal of Medicine says the virus can live up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, while it survives on cardboard for 24 hours – although the spread of infection lowers over time as the amount of the virus on the surface depletes.

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Health experts have therefore pushed for households to remember to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces, although have argued that people shouldn’t need to disinfect every thing they get into contact with.

Experts have said there is little risk of contracting the new virus from deliveries.

According to the World Health Organisation, the risk of catching the virus from a package that has been “moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature” is very loww, while the risk of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is “relatively low”.

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Stephen Baker, from the Department of Medicine at the university of Cambridge, added: “I think that we can’t get to the point where we’re disinfecting every item we come in contact with. I would say there isn’t any real necessity to throw away packaging any sooner than you would do normally,”
Postal deliveries are carrying on as normal, although new social distancing measures mean recipients no longer have to sign for parcels.

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In a statement, Royal Mail said it takes the safety of its customers and staff “very seriously” and all staff must wash their hands when entering and leaving buildings and while out on deliveries.

The statement continued: “We have taken a number of measures and provided preventative guidance to our colleagues. This includes promoting regular hand washing with soap and water. We have good supplies of soap and paper towels. We are also providing disposable latex gloves, available on request.

“Public health authorities have advised people receiving parcels are not at risk of contracting coronavirus. From experience with other coronaviruses, we know that these types of viruses don’t survive long on objects, such as letters or parcels. This complements the highly publicised guidance from public health authorities for people to wash their hands more often than usual using soap and hot water.”

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