What you need to know about packages from China and coronavirus

Like almost everyone else in the world, I’ve been following the news about coronavirus pretty closely. And I have to admit, it’s hard not to feel concerned…

Coronavirus starts out like a cold — you get a runny nose, stuffy nose, cough, maybe a sore throat. But it can progress into a serious lower respiratory infection that can kill even young and healthy people.

In fact, the doctor that first identified the virus, a 34-year-old man named Li Wenliang, died from the virus recently.

Now, the virus is pretty rare in the U.S. at this point, so that gives me peace of mind (I can only imagine how scary it is for people in China). But an alarming question popped into my head a few days ago…

What about packages coming from China? Can the virus be spread from those?

I love shopping online. Not many of the packages I order come from China, but I’ve received a few over the years. And regardless of what I order personally, the fact is, there are several million packages shipped from China to the U.S. every month.

Could that make the coronavirus worse here in the States?

If the same question has crossed your mind, here’s what you need to know…

This is how long coronavirus lasts on surfaces

U.S. health officials recently confirmed that packages from China aren’t a potential source of coronavirus. Why?

Well, viruses in the coronavirus family don’t survive on surfaces very long. Considering it takes a few days to a few weeks for packages to make it to the U.S. from China, any remnants of the virus would be long gone before the packages landed on your doorstep… even if a sneezing coronavirus-carrying person prepared your package in China. The only way you can catch the virus is through respiratory droplets directly from another person.

That said, this particular coronavirus is a new breed. And scientists don’t exactly know how resilient it is. But the viruses it’s most similar to — severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) — only last a few hours on object surfaces. So, chances are, this virus has the same shelf life.

That means packages from China are perfectly safe… at least when it comes to coronavirus. There are plenty of other risks to buying stuff online from China, like getting counterfeit items, products that don’t conform to U.S. safety standards, problems getting refunds… but that’s a whole other story.

Regardless, we may begin to see fewer packages or goods, in general, making their way from China. According to a CNN Business report, both shipping and air cargo out of China has been disrupted as many factories are shutting down and workers staying home to prevent the further spread of the virus in China. However, UPS and FedEx said they continue to fly into and out of China, even though UPS reports they are seeing reduced demand for its services as a result of business closures.

Virus-proof yourself

Even though packages from China won’t put you at risk for coronavirus, the virus has already spread to the U.S., Europe, and Australia, among other areas. Even though it’s still rare in these areas, we all need to do our part to prevent it from spreading more.

That means washing our hands frequently and heading to the doc if we have a suspicious virus. You can also reduce the odds that you’ll get coronavirus (or any other of the seasonal viruses going around) by supporting your immune system…

Eat healthy. Sleep at least eight hours per night. Drink plenty of water. Keep your stress level down. And consider recruiting the help of immune-boosting foods and supplements, like mushrooms, garlic, ginger, Indian gooseberry (amla), hibiscus tea, echinacea, black seed oil, oregano oil, olive leaf extract, and many others.

In fact, you may want to take a look at these winter virus-fighting tips from EHO contributor Dr. Isaac Eliaz. He gives you a long list of proven ways to help keep yourself virus-free.


  1. Can I get coronavirus from a package delivered from China? — MedicalXpress
  2. Coronavirus Whistleblower Dies From The Disease In China — NPR
  3. Is buying online from China a good idea? — The Guardian
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.