You might be following all the self-isolation and social distancing rules, staying cooped up in your home and scrubbing down your place with sanitiser.
But you could still be at risk of catching coronavirus – due to all that stuff landing in your letterbox.
If, like us, you’ve reacted to working from home by ordering far too many items for home delivery (new sweatpants! A desk for your home office! Snacks, snacks, and more snacks!), you’ll be getting a load more letters, flyers, and packages through your door.
And it’s easy to forget how unhygienic these bits of post might be.
Dr Perpetua Emeagi, a lecturer in Human Biology and Biological Sciences at Liverpool Hope University, says that handling letters and parcels is an ‘open invitation’ for coronavirus to spread.
She wants to see people adopting an immediate ‘open it, read it, and bin it’ strategy in order to stop Covid-19 spreading to more homes through the letterbox.
Dr Emeagi, a specialist in public health and vaccine development, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘You simply do not know who or what your mail has come into contact with before it arrives at your home.
‘And while it might seem innocuous, it’s very easy to underestimate how letters and parcels could act as a carrier of Coronavirus. It’s an open invitation.
‘There’s some evidence to suggest the virus could be viable for up to seven days outside the human body.
‘Surfaces like cardboard and plastic are now known to be an effective safe-haven for Coronavirus – precisely the sort of thing used to package parcels and letters.
‘And if you’re leaving your post around your home, bringing into your kitchen and communal areas, you’re leaving yourself open to infection.’
Dr Emeagi advises following the open it, read it, bin it rule to avoid having unhygienic envelopes and packaging materials hanging around your home.
She suggest: ‘As soon as you pick up your post, open it, read it, file it, perhaps take a photo of the important information on your mobile phone, and then safely dispose of it.
‘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 bin the envelope as well as what’s inside it.
‘You then need to immediately wash your hands, for the recommended 20 seconds, and follow all the usual precautions including cleaning your phone with ethanol-based wipes.’
Dr Emeagi says that this strategy is also a safer bet than putting your mail into some sort of holding quarantine for a period of days until you’re satisfied any bacteria has subsided and coronavirus is degraded.
Earlier this week Royal Mail sought to reassure Brits, telling them it is safe to send gifts and cards home for Mother’s Day, despite the coronavirus outbreak.
However it also came after a case of COVID-19 was confirmed at an Oxfordshire depot of Royal Mail, after an employee tested positive.
Don’t stop sending letters and gifts – these could have a huge impact on reducing loneliness as people are in isolation.
Just take precautions, keep clean, and remember that any post you come into contact with has been in the outside world – treat it accordingly.
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