Should courier parcels be disinfected when packing and receiving?

Whether courier parcels should be disinfected or not has been a hot topic for many weeks. It is true that pathogenic bacteria and viruses have always travelled along with courier parcels, and a courier with a runny nose could have spread viruses. However, it was only the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that triggered speculation on the possibility of becoming infected “via mail”. So here is a question: is there any connection between collecting your parcel with your online shopping and an increase in the COVID-19 disease statistics?

First of all, nowadays, online shopping is the safest form of purchasing not only clothes, but footwear, IT equipment, machines, tools, cosmetics and food products. Generally speaking: if you have a choice, you should always choose shopping online instead of in person, as in most cases the virus is transmitted through direct contact with an infected person.

The sensitive perpetrator of a global pandemic

Our villain, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, is not a particularly strong one: it may be damaged while exposed to UV radiation, high temperatures and a lack of moisture. It cannot survive outside the human body for a very long time. Under very favourable circumstances, i.e. at high humidity and temperature close to that of the human body, the COVID-19 perpetrator is able to survive for several days. Provided it hits the right surface. On smooth plastic, metal or glass, at a temperature of around 30°C, the coronavirus can survive for up to 9 days. But only if said surfaces are not treated with detergents or disinfectants based on ethanol (ethyl alcohol) at a concentration of about 60-70%.

The quoted data suggests that the coronavirus is able to travel in courier parcels, survive the delivery and infect the recipient. The conclusion is the most logical and legitimate, but … in the real conditions of courier deliveries, the probability of virus transmission via the parcel is within the margin of error. Especially as couriers, starting from the beginning of the pandemic, have taken numerous measures to counteract the spread of the virus. Relevant information can be found on the websites of courier companies. If, however, the package was infected in any way, the use of the simplest personal hygiene measures will fully protect you against infection.

How to open a package to avoid the risk of infection?

In the master level version, you should place a container of an appropriate size at your door and ask the courier to place the package in it. When the courier leaves, you should disinfect the container by carefully spraying it with disinfectant, and then put it in a safe place for a 14-day quarantine. Of course, such a procedure is possible, if you do not need the contents of the package immediately and the shipped goods do not deteriorate.

If there is no chance for the parcel to be quarantined, you should not panic under any circumstances: latex gloves and cleansers are all you need to safely unpack your shipment. The most important thing is to discard the packaging immediately: throw the box, fillers and foil into the appropriate external containers. If possible, you should wash and disinfect the items before using them.

While handling the package, avoid touching your face, nose or eyes. When your goods are unpacked, carefully wash your hands and disinfect the surface on which you unpacked the package.

How to prepare a safe package for shipping?

You should wear a mask and gloves when preparing a package for the courier. No other precautions are necessary. Personal protection is designed to ensure that no infectious material is transferred. Epidemiologists are saying more and more often that the COVID-19 threatens primarily the elderly and the sick, and that the majority of the population will become infected, but with mild symptoms. Therefore, wearing masks, using gloves and disinfecting hands while preparing packages is a testimony to social responsibility – concern for the health and life of those people who are at increased risk.