In recent days, the coronavirus has been raging and gaining ground worldwide. More than 800 people infected, including 177 judged serious, according to the last official report to date, and 26 dead identified. Positive cases are also increasing elsewhere in the world, with two confirmed cases in the United States, and also in Great Britain, much closer to home. Some people therefore wonder whether it is dangerous to have packages delivered from China, given the current psychosis due to this deadly epidemic.
In China, tourist places close one after the other. The Great Wall no longer welcomes anyone, travel agencies no longer send customers and all this in the middle of the Chinese New Year. The cause ? The coronavirus. If at this stage the World Health Organization (WHO) has renounced declaring an international public health emergency, cases of contamination are becoming known everywhere.
But then, should we give up, as a precaution, to have products or packages delivered from China, via AliExpress, Alibaba, Joom, SheIn, or so many other known sites that we use more and more for our shopping in line ? “To my knowledge, the transmission of a virus through the contents of a package is unheard of,” replies Éric D’Ortenzio, epidemiologist at Inserm and coordinator of the Reacting consortium at Le Parisien newspaper. “Relays are mainly people and animals,” added Christian Perronne, the head of the infectious diseases department at Raymond-Poincaré Hospital in Garches.
The problem is that we don’t know how long this new pathogen can survive in the environment. “This is the question that all scientists are asking: clearly, we do not know at this stage,” warns Éric D’Ortenzio.
The only certainty, according to the researcher, the coronaviruses are “rather fragile”, much less tenacious than the viruses of gastroenteritis, for example. “What we know about previous coronaviruses is that they can survive for hours on dry surfaces,” such as tables or doorknobs.
“But again, their lifespan depends on other parameters, such as temperature and humidity,” he insists. In other words, if it is advisable to remain cautious, it remains however very unlikely that the coronavirus will survive a transport by plane, a fortiori in the hold, or by boat, where the temperatures are extreme.