What are the risks of infection from objects with the coronavirus?
A new COVID-19 case detected in Beijing was traced back to international mail, a health official said Monday at a press conference.
The case was reported on Saturday and is confirmed to be an Omicron variant.
The mail arrived in Beijing from Canada on January 11. Local health authorities collected 22 environmental samples from it, and the nucleic acid tests all came back positive, said Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of Beijing's center for disease control and prevention.
The patient said she had touched the outside surface of the package and the first page of the document inside.
Combined with the epidemiological studies, the testing results of suspicious samples and the gene sequencing result of the case, the possibility that the Beijing case was infected by the virus through the international mail cannot be ruled out, Pang said.
Although reports said some goods tested positive in nucleic acid tests, it does not necessarily mean that there is a live virus on the item's surface. When a virus exists on the surface of an item, it loses its vitality after a period of time, Zhao Wei, a public health professor at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, said during an interview with China Media Group.
Three conditions must be met for humans to be infected via an object – the virus on the object's surface must be a live virus; coronavirus must enter the human body through the respiratory tract; and people who come into contact with the contaminated object must not have immunity, he explained.
Experts have provided tips on receiving international goods:
- Let the goods sit for a while before unpacking them.
- Avoid face-to-face handovers.
- Wear a mask and gloves during handovers.
- Disinfect the surface and inside of the goods after receiving them.
- Wash hands with soap or use hand sanitizer after touching the goods.
In a notice released on Monday, the State Post Bureau of China suggested that people reduce mail and express delivery of goods from countries and regions with a high risk of COVID-19 to prevent transmission of the virus through international mail.