Scientists are still learning a lot about the novel coronavirus—including how long it survives on surfaces. And as more people shop online to avoid crowds, some are wondering whether you can catch COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, from packages and mail.
“It’s a very difficult question to answer,” says microbiologist Rodney Rohde, PhD, associate dean for research for the College of Health Professions at Texas State University.
Studies show the virus can survive on surfaces for several days, but there’s no evidence that it’s transmissible through goods. The novel coronavirus can last up to three days on plastic and 24 hours on cardboard, according to a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
However, lab studies don’t reflect real life conditions, Rohde cautions.
Viruses are fragile, meaning they don’t hold up well on surfaces—especially when exposed to heat and sunlight. A package may have traces of the