Research has shown that the novel coronavirus can be picked up by touching contaminated surfaces with the new virus. When you touch an infected surface and then touch your eyes, face, or don’t wash your hands, there are high chances of you being infected with the virus.
As a result as the fear of COVID-19 spreads across the globe, so has the fear of surfaces. People are apprehensive of touching, coming in contact with or consuming anything that may have a chance of transmitting the virus.
The virus can also be spread in tiny droplets released from the nose and mouth of an infected person as they cough. As a result, you must have seen surfaces such as work tables, park benches etc. being constantly disinfected and sanitized before use.
Since research about the virus is in its infancy, it is unclear for how long the virus can survive outside the human body. The time for the same varies from a couple of days while even extending till a month.
This has led to panic about what is safe to touch and what is not. The latest thing to fall under the crutches of this were newspapers. Rumours started that the virus can survive on paper products, and coming in contact with newspapers could promote the spread of COVID-19. Ultimately, people stopped buying newspapers, refusing to touch them for the reason that it may transmit the virus.
What Health Authorities Have To Say
In a question and answer segment on the coronavirus, the WHO stated ‘The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.’
Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention debunked the argument, stating that it is quite unlikely that the novel coronavirus could spread through the give and take of newspapers. This was because the coronavirus had “a very low risk” of spreading on packages, newspapers, and other mail due to the “poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces.”
Closer to home in India, several health experts and scientists preach the same thing. In fact, survivability of the virus on paper products is considered to be considerably low than on other surfaces such as metal or steel. So you may actually have a greater chance of contracting the virus when you open your door than when you pick up newspapers.
Precautions To Ensure Newspapers Are Safe
However, it still isn’t certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. Newspapers are like any other substances and with viruses capable of staying on any surfaces, you can never be too careful. Therefore if you’re paranoid, you could take the following steps before and after you touch a newspaper to ensure your safety:-
- Wash your hands before and after reading newspapers or books
- If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others.
- Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose while reading the newspaper.
In addition to this, the fact the printing and packaging of newspapers is majorly an automated process further lessens the chance of human interaction. The newspapers are developed by the designers and transmitted digitally to the printing presses. With the printing machines being fully automatic, the entire packaging process is computerized. Media houses like Deccan herald are further fumigating bundles to ensure disinfection before being dispatched to vendors.
Therefore, the rumour that newspapers can act as carriers of the coronavirus is definitely a false one. At a time when factual information is at a premium, the role of print media gains even more importance, as it acts as a transmitter of correct information. Thus be assured that your daily newspapers are safe. So receive and read it without any apprehension!