Coronavirus numbers are surging across the nation, causing many to take a look at how the virus is being transmitted. It’s well-established through research that the highest risk of transmission is through close contact with an infected person, but what about if an infected person licks the envelope of a Christmas card before sticking it in the mail?
In short, it would be “extraordinarily unlikely” that you would contract coronavirus this way.
“The principle way in which we know the virus spreads is through shared air, and even though the virus does have the potential to live on surfaces, you would be at extremely low risk of contracting it from the mail,” David Hirschwerk, MD, infectious disease specialist at Northwell Health, told Fox News via email.
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His advice echoes guidance published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the start of the outbreak that said while the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, it’s unlikely to spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging.
“If mailing a card or other merchandise, by the time it arrives, the virus would not be able to survive the transit,” Hirschwerk said.
Both Hirschwerk and the CDC said that it is necessary to be mindful of washing our hands and not touching surfaces, as “it may be possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.”
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However, contaminated surface areas are not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
“The virus spreads when you are in close contact with people, who are not wearing masks,” Hirschwerk said. “The virus lives within droplets. We do need to wash our hands and not touch surfaces, but the principle way the virus spreads is in close contact with other people.”
Adhering to public health measures such as avoiding large indoor gatherings, traveling and limiting contact with people outside your immediate family are other ways to stay safe this holiday season, he added.
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“It’s a hard thing for people to hear but it is the reality,” Hirschwerk said. “COVID-19 is so prevalent right now that if you are going to mix indoors with people outside of your immediate household you are rolling the dice with the risk of infection.”