Coronavirus – we’re importing, are we safe?

Coronavirus – we’re importing, are we safe?

So you’re importing from China and are concerned – will my parcels and packages that arrive from China be contaminated with the Coronavirus?

In short, NO. Studies show that similar viruses only live for few hours on the surface of an object at ambient temperature (the temperature in the cargo hold of an aircraft is around 7 degrees centigrade).

But actually the question is not as far fetched as you might think. Whilst most similar (or cousin) viruses like SARS and MERS can only live on a surface for a few hours, the Director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) in Atlanta, USA has admitted that “We don’t know if this virus will behave in exactly the same way as SARS and MERS, but there is no evidence to support transmissibility from imported goods.” So basically it’s too early to tell.

Alarm in Malaysia has become so great that its Deputy Director of the Ministry of Health, Dr Li Guozhong, was forced to made a statement to Malaysia’s national newspaper, Sin Chew Daily, saying that “it takes more than 24 hours for a package to be shipped from China to Malaysia, so the risk of the Wuhan pneumonia virus passing through the package is low.”

So what else is being done?

Well there are restrictions on shipments and compulsory factory closures in China’s Hubei province, which is at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak and China Post’s Express Mail Service (EMS) announced on Sunday that it will delay shipping orders to disinfect goods. EMS said: “To ensure the public’s safety, we will ‘double-disinfect’ the parcels and the vehicles that will go through Wuhan, delaying the shipping progress.” 

Overnight, British Airways announced that it would suspend all direct flights to and from mainland China, with others expected to follow. United Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Air Canada are amongst the other airlines that had already announced plans to reduce flight numbers. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has extended the New Year holiday – a time when production in the country comes to a halt – by at least three days, until February 3. Businesses in the Guangdong province, which includes Shanghai, have been ordered to remain closed through to February 10. And the vast majority of flights into and out of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, were stopped last week.

For more information on the Coronavirus please visit the NHS website.

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