Coronavirus outbreaks have become a global health concern at the outset of 2020, with thousands of cases in China and other countries. The disease, known 2019-CoV, has successfully achieved airborne transmission, meaning it can now spread as the flu does via sneezing and coughing.
Can coronavirus spread via packages?
Coronavirus can now spread from person-to-person as part of a mutation it acquired earlier this month.
The disease has already ravaged China, having spread through thousands of people and shut down several cities in the country.
According to experts, the disease requires people to breed and spread.
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Some diseases such as the flu and SARs, a close relative of 2019-CoV, spread when people come into contact with surfaces on which germs are present.
One concern during a pandemic or epidemic with a disease which can travel like this is mail, as some viruses can attach themselves to packages and spread on to recipients.
However, the BBC reports 2019-CoV has not yet shown this capability, and if it could, packages from China would pose a limited risk.
Viruses have limited ability to survive outside of the human body and often perish in less than 24 hours.
Very few diseases can survive for much longer, one such example being norovirus, which can last for weeks on hard surfaces.
According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), 2019-CoV transmission comes from close contact, making it slower to progress than some other viruses.
One concern with 2019-CoV, however, is that it can spread before symptoms appear.
Speaking at a press conference earlier this week, Chinese Health Minister Ma Xiaowei said it could pass between people during its 14-day incubation period.
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Ma Xiaowei said: “It seems like the ability of the virus to spread is getting stronger.”
Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School told the Daily Mail the latest news is “extremely worrying”.
He said: “If person to person spread from people without symptoms became common then this would be extremely worrying.
“It would also be very surprising.”
“The consensus from the SARS outbreak was that only patients with symptoms spread the infection.
“Patients with influenza can transmit the infection before becoming ill but only for a day at most before symptoms develop.
“The primary way that coronaviruses are spread is by aerosols generated by coughs and sneezes.”
China has several cities on lockdown to contain the infection and is in the process of building temporary hospitals to relieve pressure from overcrowded hospitals.
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