Critter Corner: Can You Get Coronavirus from Holiday Cards?

Dear Hayek,

First, I want to say that you look quite debonair in that holiday sweater! I hope this doesn’t sound like a silly question, but every year we send and receive lots of holiday cards from friends and family all over the world. During the coronavirus pandemic, is it safe to do so? Do you have any suggestions about how to safely send and open Christmas cards this year?

Thanks!

Chris Mascard

Dear Chris,

Thanks for the compliment about my sweater! The pets from Critter Corner and I are all certainly in the holiday spirit this year and enjoy dressing up. You’ll see all of our cheerful holiday looks in future Critter Corner columns this month!

With the pandemic still going on, we are paying special attention to wearing masks, washing our hands, and keeping our distance from others. It’s also time to be extra considerate about things we touch – such as mail. As many are aware, coronavirus can spread through surfaces, so regardless of how careful you’re being in terms of in-person interaction, don’t forget to keep that energy for sending and opening items, as well.

Coronavirus Does Not Survive Long on Objects

On a positive note, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised that coronavirus does not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees, stating that it would be “extraordinarily unlikely” that you would contract coronavirus this way. In fact, a guidance published by the CDC at the start of the outbreak said “while the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, it’s unlikely to spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging.”

“The principle way in which we know the virus spreads is through shared air, and even though the virus does have the potential to live on surfaces, you would be at extremely low risk of contracting it from the mail,” according to David Hirschwerk, MD, infectious disease specialist at Northwell Health.

Better to Be Extra Vigilant, Just in Case!

Dr Perpetua Emeagi, a lecturer in Human Biology and Biological Sciences at Liverpool Hope University in the UK feels that it’s better to be extra safe than sorry, since there is always a remote chance of something out of the ordinary happening (especially in 2020). Her suggested technique when receiving letters and cards is to open them, read them, and throw them out. Outlining her suggested hygiene strategy, Dr Emeagi said, “(a)s soon as you pick up your mail, open it, read it, file it, perhaps take a photo of the important information on your mobile phone, and then safely dispose of it. With a few easy steps, you can be sure you’re safe. Do not leave it lying around and take extra care not to allow it to come into contact with other surfaces. And make sure you toss the envelope as well as what’s inside it and wash your hands. If you take a picture of each card you get, you can send it to your loved one to say thank you (as well as storing the memory digitally) without worrying about COVID.”

Be Extra Careful During the Holidays

Adhering to public health measures such as avoiding large indoor gatherings, traveling and limiting contact with people outside your immediate family are other ways to stay safe this holiday season. “It’s a hard thing for people to hear but it is the reality,” Dr. Hirschwerk said. “COVID-19 is so prevalent right now that if you are going to mix indoors with people outside of your immediate household you are rolling the dice with the risk of infection.”

Hope you have a very happy holiday!

Love,
Hayek

Leave a comment