Are packages from coronavirus-hit China safe to handle?

As the deadly coronavirus continues to spread across the world, you may be wondering: Do imported goods from China pose a health risk?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on its website warns human coronaviruses most commonly spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, close contact with an infected person (shaking hands, for example), but also by touching an object or surface that has been exposed to the virus, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes with dirty hands.

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But no need to fret, experts told Fox News. It’s unlikely the virus will survive the journey from China to your front door.

“The virus on materials they ordered would not survive such a trip. Outside the body, we believe this virus only survives on [an] object minutes to an hour or so, not the days it takes your goods to travel the globe,”  Patricia A. Stinchfield, vice president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), told Fox News in an email. “As always after handling things, wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.”

Experts say to not be worried about the virus living on packages from China.

Experts say to not be worried about the virus living on packages from China. (iStock)

A package from China takes at least three days to arrive in California, The Denver Post, citing UPS and FedEx estimates, reported. Though scientists are still working to understand the novel virus, it is closely related to SARS, which can live on surfaces for about two days, according to a 2003 University of Minnesota study.

Dr. William Schaffner, the medical director of the NFID, echoed Stinchfield. He noted that while touching surfaces infected with the virus can be a way to transmit it, this method is “a minor one in comparison to respiratory transmission." "Frequent handwashing” is important in preventing illness in general, he added.

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The novel coronavirus that’s to blame for the illnesses began at a live animal and seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has since spread to at least 16 countries — including the United States. The death toll from the virus increased to 213 on Friday, with a total of 9,692 infected. The number of cases has increased more than tenfold in a week, with 43 new deaths reported on Friday, the most in a 24-hour-period.

Though federal health officials have maintained that the risk to the public is low, there are still a few things you can do to keep yourself as healthy as possible — which you can check out here.