How Long Does COVID Last on Surfaces? Chinese Authorities Testing Parcels for Virus

Chinese officials are checking parcels for traces of COVID after workers at a company that makes children's clothing tested positive for the virus.

The measures come after three workers at Haohui Ecommerce Co., in Hebei Province near Beijing, caught COVID.

Parcel deliveries in the cities of Xinji, Jinzhou and the town of Shenze have stopped, Bloomberg reported citing a government statement. 300 packages tested for COVID have come back negative.

Weibo posts seen by Newsweek show local governments stating that they have tested parcels for COVID. They also urge citizens to sterilize packages, not to touch their contents, and report themselves to local government offices if they have been in touch with parcels.

The warnings come despite the fact surfaces are not thought to be a main source of transmission for COVID.

How worried should I be about catching COVID from surfaces?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID is mostly spread through droplets breathed out by people who are infected with the virus.

It states: "It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low."

The risk of catching COVID from a surface depends on a number of factors, including how prevalent it is in a community; how much virus an infected person expels on to a surface; and the airflow and temperature in a room. Other variables include the time between the virus falling on a surface and the person touching it; how effectively the virus spreads from a surface into the person's body through their nose, mouth or eyes; and how much virus is needed to cause an infection.

How long does COVID last on surfaces?

Studies suggest that COVID is no longer detectable in a state where it can infect people minutes to hours after it lands on porous surfaces, such as ​​cardboard, and for days to weeks on non-porous surfaces, such as copper, stainless steel, and plastic.

After three days, COVID is generally no longer infectious on a non-porous surface in a typical indoor space.

But the CDC notes that such estimates are based on studies done in labs, and may not reflect a real-world environment where factors like ventilation and changing conditions can affect the virus.

The CDC states: "When accounting for both surface survival data and real-world transmission factors, the risk of fomite transmission after a person with COVID-19 has been in an indoor space is minor after 3 days (72 hours), regardless of when it was last cleaned."

How to protect yourself and others from COVID

The best way to protect yourself from COVID is to get vaccinated, the CDC states. Other helpful precautions include wearing a mask indoors in areas of high transmission, washing hands frequently with soap and water, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, staying six feet away from those not in your household, cleaning surfaces that are touched often daily, and monitoring yourself for symptoms.

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A stock image shows a collection of parcels. Chinese authorities are testing parcels for COVID. Getty Images