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Coronavirus Q&A: Can The Virus Be Transmitted On Paper, Coins, Or Mail?

(Stock photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash)
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An anonymous listener asked about how the virus spreads: “Are we absolutely positive that this virus can not be transmitted, one, on paper or metal currency [and], two, via postal letters and/or packages?”

Here’s Dr. Shruti Gohil with the University of California Irvine Medical Center, who’s helping lead the effort to prepare the hospital for COVID-19 (edited slightly for clarity):

“You kind of have to ask yourself that question [in the same context as] cold and flu. Do we see things like a cold and flu being transmitted through paper or envelopes? No, we don't. If this virus had this capability of spreading so easily, through things like paper fomites, then you would expect this outbreak to be much, much, much worse than what we are seeing now. I would think this is a good piece of comforting information, [but] you still have to apply common sense. If you took a coin and you know that somebody was sick and they could have a virus on their secretions on that coin, and you get that coin — well, you might acquire the illness if you don't clean your hands or you start touching your face right after.”