Coronaviruses Spread: Is it Safe to Open Postal Mails?

Sana Masroor   by Sana Masroor, M.S., Biochemistry    Last updated on April 28, 2020,

Scientists studying coronaviruses (COVID-19) are quickly uncovering the features that allow it to infect and sicken humans. Every virus has its different way of communicating with the world, and this time it is — SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease COVID-19 — and is well-equipped to create a historic pandemic these days.

The coronavirus can be shed by people even if they are asymptomatic. That pre-symptomatic transmission helps in spread through communities before they know the cause.

How Safe it is to Open Mails in Current COVID-19 Outbreak Situation?

Mail delivery is one of the normal daily routines that haven’t been disrupted during the coronavirus outbreak. As in the recent study which has published in The New Journal of England, it is said that coronavirus can be detected for up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 2 to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel.

Letter carriers usually touch countless envelopes and mailboxes as they deliver mails. It is not clear whether letter carriers are safe from COVID-19 or not.

According to Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the Surgeon General, there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through the mails.

The specific consideration of organizations while considering the coronavirus issue is:

  • According to World Health Organization (WHO) report, the chance of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the coronavirus from a package that has been moved, travelled so far and has been exposed to different countries and temperature is also low.
  • According to Center for Disease Control, due to the poor survivability of these coronaviruses on these surfaces, there is very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days and weeks at different temperatures.
  • Coronaviruses are usually thought to be spread more often by respiratory droplets from an infected person. Since, currently there is no evidence to support the transmission of virus associated with the imported goods and there have not been found any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods, there is not much need to worry. However, the more precautions we can take the better it is.

Also read:

Coronavirus Disease: Safety and Precaution for Heart Patients

What Does Novel Coronavirus Look Like?

What Are The Various Steps Taken By United States Postal Service (USPS) to Ensure Mail Carriers Safety?

USPS has taken some measures to prevent coronavirus among their letter carriers:

Employees have to follow some protocols like;

  • Frequent handwashing
  • Use of sanitizers before and after delievering letters
  • Additional cleaning of work places
  • Employing sick leaves to person who is sick
  • To reduce health risk, customer signature capture procedures has currently modified. While maintaining a safe distance, employess can request the customers’s first initial and last name, so that employees can enter their information on electronic screen and hard copy items like return receipts.

To ensure safety, employees may politely ask the customer to step back a safe distance or close the screen door so that they can leave the item in the mail receptacle or appropriate location.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no evidence yet to support that weather and temperature has impact on the spread of COVID-19.

Viruses like influenza that cause common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather period but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months as well.

In present times, it is not known whether COVID-19 spread will decrease when weather becomes warmer or not. There is much more research needed to know about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.

  • Stay home if you are sick. Keep away from people who are sick. Avoid close contact with people as much as possible (about 6 feet).
  • When you are coughing and sneezing, cover it with a tissue and then throw it in the trash. Wash the hands properly often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean hands.
  • If there is an outbreak of coronavirus, then ask your senior employer to work from home or take leave.
  • Stay safe and maintain social distancing well. Avoid public gatherings.

You should stay away with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like as you would be around other people. Although there is no report suggesting pets or other animals of becoming sick with COVID-19, but, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 should avoid contact with animals until more research is carried out on the new coronavirus.

Sana Masroor

Sana Masroor is a biochemist and has pursued her Master’s degree in biochemistry from Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi.  She has worked as a Research Trainee in the Special Center for Molecular Medicine, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

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